Let me tell you a story about a woman, who I briefly mentioned here. A woman who has chronic pain and decided that she wasn’t going to let it control her any longer so she started climbing mountains. And then she started running. And then she started running up mountains.
This weekend she had the Pikes Peak Double on her agenda for the second year. On Saturday, there’s a race from the bottom to the top of Pikes Peak along Barr Trail, 13.3 miles. If that’s not extreme enough for you, on Sunday there’s a race from the bottom to the top of Pikes Peak and then back down – a full marathon. And for those looking for something a little extra, there’s the “double” where you do both races in the same weekend. Yup, that’s thirty-nine miles.
Saturday morning she sent me a text. “I’ve got a migraine.” When she says migraine, she means migraine. This is a woman who’s had a headache every day of her life for the last twelve years.
She did the 13.3 mile race anyway, and I got to cheer her across the finish line at the top. But her body was worn out; she was shaken and really doubting doing the full marathon the next day.
It didn’t surprise me at all when the text I received Sunday morning said she was going to do that race, too. She’s stubbornly awesome like that. And yesterday afternoon there was this:
A few weeks ago she told me that lots of people call her crazy. Admit it, you thought it while reading this. It’s okay; I’ve called her crazy as well. Many many times. 🙂
She went on to say that she didn’t like being called crazy. That it that made her wonder if she was crazy. That it makes her upset that she was doing something she loved (and, by the way, something that actually helps her manage her pain) and was labeled crazy. That she doesn’t want to have to apologize for who she is.
She asked why it was that people called her crazy. I didn’t have an immediate answer, but I thought about it. A lot. For several days, in fact. After a quite a bit of musing, told her my conclusion.
I call her crazy because I’m jealous.
I told her that I always wanted to be the strong enough or fit enough or fast enough to be like those Olympic athletes. Part of it was thinking my body would break if I tried to push it that hard, but a larger part of it was not having the discipline to work that hard on something. Because, really, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to be healthier. But it takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice and prioritizing. And it’s easier to justify why you aren’t doing something by calling the people that do do it crazy.
And then I said, “Especially you. You overcame a disability — heck, are still performing WITH a disability and smoking all of us!* No wonder YOU make us uncomfortable. If you can do it, we have no excuse!”
*Even with a migraine, she still summitted before her husband and sister-in-law on Saturday.
I think calling someone crazy reveals a lot more about our own fears and insecurities than it does about the person we’re calling crazy.
I have a friend who is brilliant and got a degree in astrophysics. But instead of going for advance degrees and what would undoubtedly be a successful and probably well-paying career, he chose become an overworked and underpaid high school science teacher.
Because I don’t want to admit that I put my own prestige and financial security first instead of making sacrifices to help others.
Another friend of mine packed her bags and her husband and moved abroad to a country where they didn’t speak the language, just for the adventure of it.
Because I don’t want to admit my fears in stepping out of my comfort zones – like my friends who went to study abroad in England and Chile.
One of my best friends walked across a stage last Friday in a fancy cap and gown, finally a doctor after years and years and years of hard work.
Because I don’t want to admit that I’m too lazy to put that much work and effort into something.
Or a friend who recently spent hours and hours making intricate beaded flowers by hand for her sister’s wedding.
Because I wish I was more patient and generous.
How about my friend who made a resolution in 2012 to run at least one mile every day, despite having just about never run before? She succeeded.
Because I suck at keeping resolutions. *Hangs head in shame.*
A few weeks ago I helped out at a half Ironman. I call those people crazy (big surprise). Really, though, I’m scared of swimming. I can tread water long enough that I won’t drown (for a while) but jumping into a lake with a few hundred people freaks me out. Before ever even attempting a triathlon I’d have to address that fear. So the truth is that I’m extremely impressed by triathletes.
I hear people say they don’t have a TV, and I think that’s crazy. The truth is I spend too much time in front of it and the computer screen.
I go to events and see people who don’t eat the sweets or fried food, and I think that’s crazy because cheesecake is awesome. The truth is I should probably be eating healthier.
Another friend and I were discussing this concept of ‘crazy’ when he mentioned that as part of his half marathon training he’s been running home from work. “You’re crazy!” I told him, and we laughed. Because I hate hot weather and melt into whining puddle of sweat when I have to run in the heat. And I wish I had the constitution and discipline to run in the middle of the day.
In May of 2010, my incredible friend who runs up mountains took one of her first steps by running her first half marathon.
And we called her “crazy”.
Instead of calling her crazy, what we should have called her was “inspiring”.
I owned up to my fears and stopped making excuses, and one year later I ran my first half marathon while she cheered me on. The same half marathon that she had run just one year before.
(Fun fact: it was warmer on the top of Pikes Peak that day than it was on the Denver race course.)
After she started running, I started running. And then her husband started running. At the beginning of this summer another one of our friends ran her very first 5K. In seven weeks she’s going to run her second 5K, and another friend will be joining us for her first 5K.
Ultimately, all this talk about “crazy” just comes back to this quote by Marianne Williamson:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world… and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
In August 2010, she ran up Pikes Peak for the first time. And we called her crazy.
I have sixty-two days until my next half marathon. And this time I have extra motivation to hit a new personal record: you can’t even sign up for the Pikes Peak Ascent unless you’ve run a half marathon under 2:30.
And I want to be one of those “crazy” people on the mountain in 2014.