That First Step Away

15 Oct

There we were, running the BAA Half Marathon, and I noted that nearly everyone was running with a portable device for listening to music. Except me. I’m sure there were others but we were few and far between. It made me think: When did I decide I was brave enough to run without music? Without distraction? With just my own thoughts?  I’ve run a smattering of marathons now and not a single one of them with music. Is it easier to take the first step out of a comfort zone when you don’t know its a comfort zone, when you don’t know that what you are doing is going to be unusual?

In Crossfit this week, I PRed in a few lifts. None of them as scary as when I finally committed to trying both the push jerk and the split jerk and actually jumping forcefully enough to bring my feet off the ground.  I know, I jump all the time. But a 24″ box jump can’t compare with the sheer terror of jumping while simultaneously pushing heavy weight over your head. And granted, a few hours later, while watching the Crossfit Games, I saw men split jerking 355 pounds.  I was only trying for 85.  Not even in the same ballpark.  But anytime you try something new, that is slightly dangerous, its hard to take that first step.

We are running now through crowds thick with spectators, after a 2 mile hush where the only sound was pounding feet and heavy breathing as we labored up a hill. And I see a lot of children and think – maybe that’s the first time we ever do something that scary – when we take our first step away. Often away from the couch. Or a coffee table. Sometimes a hand.  We learn to stand, then to shuffle around holding on for dear life. Gradually, our legs grow stronger beneath us and we learn to balance. We get a little cocky and land on our padded diaper butts and then we get up and do it all over again. But that first step – that first attempt to strike out on our own without the protection of a firm grip on something solid is frightening.

And empowering?

Most often we are not just stepping away from security but also stepping towards something we want – an encouraging parental face or an enticing object we probably shouldn’t have.  There is danger of failure but also potential reward in victory. And at some point, the desire for victory succeeds the risk of failure and we look at the giants around us, walking around with seemingly no effort and we decide its time to join them.

I think of a baby’s first steps often during this race – not because its a new race to me or a particularly challenging one. But because I am attempting to take my first steps in areas that I never would have previously imagined. Areas that will challenge my desire to stay quietly hidden in the crowd, areas that will require me to meet new people, even areas that will require jumping with heavy weights over my head. Each new skill – each new recipe tested – each day at the office – each hour of exercise is a chance to push our boundaries and test out legs. Can we stand? Can we balance?  Ok, let’s get moving then. It’s just one step…

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One Response to “That First Step Away”

  1. Sarah Hussey October 16, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    I love reading your blog, Liz. You are a fabulous writer!! It sucks me right in. This entry, in particular, grabbed my attention. I felt that way running my first half. I was nervous, and was so glad to have my friend Cait running by my side, and it was awesome to see you there, and other familiar faces! I was so nervous that morning that my stomach felt sick, but I knew I had done all the right training, and I had brought everything I needed (and more… my race bag was a little too full :-P), I just needed to take that first step, and then I was loving it! Congrats on your PR’s in CrossFIt, that is amazing!!! I so wish there was a gym near me that offered it… Keep up the writing, I love it 🙂

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