It’s no secret that I’m slow. Through the years I’ve done a lot to process my ever-changing body, and for the most part I’ve come to terms with my speed. However that doesn’t mean I want to give up all together. There’s a difference between accepting your current situation and accepting it as your eternal fate.
Two weeks ago I met up with a new running group. I’ve tried community running groups in the past, and they’ve never been the right fit. Despite their claims that all paces are welcome, “all paces” usually mean up to 10 minutes/mile. Historically I’ve gone once or twice, felt embarrassed, and never showed up again.
It took a bit of internal convincing for me to try again, but this group felt different. For starters, we already knew each other (kind of). We’re part of an online running support group, and finally decided to make the shift from online friendship to running together in real life.
The run could not have been better! Not only was everyone encouraging and hilarious, but also for once in my life I actually kept up with the group. We ran four miles with an average pace of 11:12/mile, with the last two miles both at 10:49. For a tortoise like me, splits like that are Usain Bolt level speed.
If this were a movie, this group run would be the breakthrough I’ve been waiting for. I overcame my obstacles through the power of friendship! The problems were only ever in my head! I go on to win all the races, qualify for Boston, and maybe even make the Olympic team! Ta da! Happily ever after! Cue music, roll credits.
But it doesn’t work like that. My next run felt sluggish and my legs were lead. I slogged at a 13 minutes/mile pace. I wanted to quit two miles in. Where was that fast runner who could keep up with the group? When I tried again few days later, I was able to push the pace, but then the following run was slower and harder. I’ll keep at it, and hopefully in time I’ll see my speed improve.
Change doesn’t just happen because we want it to happen. It’s not a linear process, and it isn’t always even obvious what makes one day a success and another day a failure.
Many of us hoped that yesterday’s election would have been the magical change we’ve been waiting for. We wished for a big blue wave that would solve all our country’s problems. Perhaps in the movie version of the midterms, everyone kind and ethical and smart would have been elected, and everyone corrupt would have been humiliated into changing their ways. Just like that we’d all have a country we can be proud of! Ta da! Happily ever after! Cue music, roll credits.
But instead we won some important races and had our hearts broken in some others, and we all got up today to keep on working on the causes we believe in. Change happens slowly — sometimes maddeningly slowly — and there are days you have to fight tooth and nail just to maintain.
It’s never just one election. It’s never just one fast run. It’s a long process of trying to make things a little bit better today, and then a little bit better yet tomorrow. Change requires hard work, much of which is behind the scenes and almost all of which is unglamorous. But no matter how difficult it seems or how many setbacks we face, we keep doing what we can, and we continue moving forward.