But then, you blink. And it's all over. The graduation gown and diploma are tucked away neatly in some memory box at your parent's house. That college town feels more like a distant memory than the place you learned so much about yourself, the place you started to realize you weren't a little kid anymore. You say goodbye to friends who've become more like family. The door closes all too quickly. And there you are. Still catching your breath from that the final few seconds of that sprint... thinking, did I really actually make it to the finish? Or did I dream the whole thing up?
I don't know if it's just a spring/mid-April thing, but life feels a whole lot like an extended sprint again. Yet the finish line doesn't seem to be getting any closer. I'm putting one foot in front of the other, saying a quick little prayer with each step, and hoping that I'll somehow stumble across the finish. Bonus points if it's a graceful stumble. I can definitely see it. It's marked by flags and shining lights and a giant mug of black coffee. (I gave up coffee for Lent). But then, just when I think I see it clear as day, it disappears again. It's yanked away from me like that one last hill or corner you didn't see coming. Sike! You've got a few more miles, sweet one. Press on.
And while I'm over-the-moon excited to run, I'm also shaking in my boots a bit. I've been having calf and hip issues the past few weeks (probably the result of over-training a bit and not properly stretching/resting/cross training), so I've had to scale back on my training BIG TIME. I know at the end of the day that my health is the most important thing. And I really do want to be able to physically cross the finish. There's absolutely no point in training so hard my body won't let me compete on race day. But I'm also just tired. Training is tough. Which I knew when I started, but I guess I didn't really grasp 100%. It takes just as much energy as it does physical endurance, and a heck ton of commitment and dedication. It's taught me to work hard, and to push through. But it's also teaching me a lesson in listening to my body and trusting that things are going to work out. I'm pretty much at that point where all I want to do is just run. Just finish.
I was having tea and biscotti with a friend the other day (because we are JUST THAT ITALIAN), when I realized it was the first time in a long time that I was just sitting down with someone and talking about life. We talked about the fact that my life feels like a sprint right now. We talked about how easy it is to put your head down, keep putting one foot in front of the other, hoping and praying that you're that much closer to the finish line. She assured me I'd get there. But she also took a good, long look at me and told me with honest eyes, "Just promise me you won't miss what's happening today. In a few weeks, it'll all be over and you'll miss those early morning jogs and the fact that your body can handle running 10 miles at once. You'll miss this place. It may not seem like it now. But don't wish it away. Because even though it seems like crossing the finish line is the only thing you want to do right now, you'll have another finish line to cross when you get there. It doesn't stop. So don't kid yourself. Just enjoy the now. Enjoy the nerves. Enjoy the busyness."
And just breathe.
Because you were made to handle infinitely more than this.
And you'll cross that finish line, I know you will.
And the last thing you'll want to say is, "Was it all just a dream?"