My relationship with my inner confidence is a rocky one. As a child I remember being super confident, in a “there is nothing I can’t do if I sent my mind to it” kind of way (the accent being on mind, my body cooperated less so and let’s just say I never excelled at sports :)). Somewhere along the way, this confidence sort of got lost, for a large part, and I am still figuring out the where/how/whens of it, what for myself what for my children so that I can hopefully help them become (and stay!) self-confident adults. So I have ups and downs, days when I can feel I can move mountains and days when moving a couple of toys seems like a daunting task. This is also one of the reasons why I started running again last year, I wanted to feel the joy in accomplish something in small measurable steps and feel good about it.
A few weeks ago I felt like my self-confidence could definitely use a little boost and decided to run my very first race. Five kilometers. You hear the loud noise in the background? That is real runners laughing about me calling 5km a race. I set my expectations very low. I just wanted to finish it. I did not care about the time, I did not care whether I’d come last. I just wanted to cross the finish line where my husband and my children would wait for me (of course they would go with, I wanted them to be proud of me and I wanted Una to see that our hard work, as she accompanies me often on my runs on her bicycle, is sort of paying off). So if I have no expectations other than to finish, and I have been running 5km 3 times a week for the last 6 months, nothing can possibly go wrong, right?
I got lost during the race.
After the first 1km or so the runners naturally split into three groups. The first group of serious runners chasing the time of less than what, 18 min, 17 min? The second group running/walking/drinking/having fun, left behind. And the third group of inbetweeners, me included. The race was through a twisty, windy forest, with three tracks of 5, 10 and 15 km, and lots of arrows intended to point the way. Somewhere between 3.5 and 4km, somehow, at the point where I couldn’t see anyone in front of me, nor anyone behind me I took the wrong turn. And after running for 5 or so more minutes I realised that I am going south instead of north as I should be getting closer to the starting point. I continued running until my stopwatch showed that 30 minutes has expired and then stopped. I came across one of the race organising volunteers who told me that I have joined the 10km track and am about 4 km away from the finish. That is a whole lot of lost.
While I was waiting for Mark to get the kids into the car and drive around the forest to find me, I was standing there, wet and cold, disappointed and humiliated. The attempt to boost my self-confidence severely back fired.
Mark and the kids finally showed up and I got into the car. The day before Mark and I had a silly fight, I can’t even remember what it was about but we spent the morning huffing and puffing and barely talking to each other. You see, we fight so rarely (and mostly when sleep deprived :)) that we don’t really know how to fight properly, if that makes sense. As we drove away I was sitting in the car, feeling a bit warmer but still trying to hold back tears when Una said softly “Mama, I am so proud of you. You did your best, you ran 5km like you wanted, so what if you did it on a different track?” And Nestor did what he does best, pulled one of his silly stunts and made me laugh.
Once home, a playdate afternoon was waiting for us with Una’s friend and his siblings, 5 kids in total, age 2-6. If you have ever been around 5 kids for a few hours you certainly know that the option of thinking about yourself is simply not there. But later that night, when everyone was in bed and I lay awake going through the morning again and again I realised that however embarrassing/humiliating/whateverelseIwasfeeling it is to get lost during your first race (and a 5km one at that) there is so much in that experience that I should be grateful for. A husband who will always come and get me, whenever and wherever I get lost. Even when we fight, always. A daughter who believes in me and who shows me that a path different from the one I had in mind is a good one too, as long as I keep running. A son who makes it impossible for me not to be happy.
That is worth getting lost for. And I am not only talking about running.