On April 20th, I participated in a race I’d been training for since February – a 10-mile run along Chicago’s lakefront.
I’m not a seasoned runner and I can’t even really tell you why I took on this challenge, except that once I heard about this race, I kept thinking about doing it. I just felt strongly pulled to try it. I had no idea if I could run at all, let alone some or even half of this distance, and I figured it was time I tried.
I listened to my desire and acted upon it.
I figured out a way to train that made sense for my level of fitness and pre-existing injuries (once-broken ankle/tib/fib + cranky knees). I found a training program for a half marathon and scaled it down to 10 miles. I downloaded a ‘Couch to 5K’ app to see how much I could run and I followed that program.
I followed my training schedule without questioning it; I just showed up and did it. No internal negotiation, no skipped workouts except for one sick day. No perfectionism, either; I just showed up over and over and over, and I really enjoyed it.
I hired a personal trainer for help with strength training.
I created a playlist that brought me joy and motivated me while training.
I went to my local running store and got new shoes a few weeks before the race because it was time.
I talked to friends who run for advice and encouragement.
On the morning of the race, I was nervous for all of the usual reasons. But when I saw there was snow on the grass and ice on the pavement, I literally started crying. I broke my leg badly by slipping on ice almost twelve years ago, so ice still scares me (though I still go walking and hiking in winter). I decided to run beside the trail on the grass until the sun came out. Quitting and going back to my hotel were not even on my menu of options.
The race itself was very different than I’d expected; it was tougher both physically and emotionally than I’d anticipated. I’d done a 10-mile distance during training and while it was hard, I felt confident the whole time. But during the race, I felt alone much of the time. I let doubt creep in, convinced that I was dead last and that somehow that mattered more than the achievement I was attempting. At times I felt like I was completely outclassed and had no business being there.
So of course, I talked to myself, both in my head and aloud (“Just get to Mile 8, Toni; that’s all you need to worry about right now.”)
Because I am slow (and totally okay with that, by the way), I had plenty of time to let my mind wander along the course, which was gorgeous and traveled along Chicago’s Lakefront and through green parkways along the lake. I realized that running a race is a lot like running a business, especially the early stages.
Eighteen or so months ago, I designed a business that made sense for my abilities (bringing people together, helping them see their inner light, and having fun while doing it all), desires (earn a great living working for myself), and current living situation (in a small town with three kids, a husband, and two other adult relatives).
I came up with a name, hired a designer to develop a website, and started spreading the word to family and friends about my new career.
I started showing up regularly, publishing my newsletter weekly, learning about marketing and coaching, and contacting people who might be interested in what I have to offer.
I hired a coach to help me develop Makearoo and now I’m working with a coach to help me be the best possible coach I can be.
I regularly absorb written and audio materials that motivate me.
I hire professionals like web and graphic designers to support the Makearoo mission.
I look to friends who are also growing kickass businesses for advice and encouragement.
During the course of developing Makearoo, I have had more than one moment of sheer terror where something that I’d pegged as a ‘dealbreaker’ appeared in my path. I haven’t let scary stuff stop me yet! I just do the equivalent of running on the grass at the start of my race; I figure out a way around the thing that is scaring me so I can keep going, because my overarching goals for Makearoo are bigger than any immediate fears that might come up along the way.
Many, many times I’ve felt both alone and outclassed as a coach and business owner. Comparing yourself to anyone else makes this easy to do. The solution is simple: Knock that shit off! I realized after a while that I was comparing myself to people who have been running their businesses for years. Of course their launches look differently and net different results; they’ve been at it for much longer, cultivating trust and creating relationships and planning for growth. I know, “Who do you think you are?” kept popping up when I first started Makearoo. It still rears its butt-ugly head from time to time now. It’s totally normal, and I see my clients, friends, and family struggle with this same deal when they stretch beyond their boundaries. Knowing that it’s normal and there are ways around those feelings is such a huge comfort. There was a line from an old episode of Doctor Who we watched recently (a David Tennant episode) where someone asked, derisively, “So, you think you’re clever, do ya?” and he responded, in all seriousness, “Yes, I do.” There’s a reason people are crazy for that show and that character; we all want to shine on like crazy diamonds just like The Doctor.
I made it to the finish line of my race, and just before that, my husband ran up to get some photos of me and my friend Nicole came and ran the last few yards with me. And then my sons ran up and crossed the finish line with me–a moment I will mark as one of the happiest of my entire life. A merry band of intrepid friends who woke early on a Saturday and braved the April-in-Chicago weather was there, too. The gratitude I feel for that support won’t fit into mere words. But I will say that in that race, my own perseverance carried me from start to finish, and so was knowing that my tribe was there for me–and in Makearoo, the same things hold true. My sons are watching me grow a business that suits my talents, temperament, goals, and our lives and precious time together. My husband and friends are watching and cheering me on, too. And I’m doing the same for all of them in their own endeavors — sometimes as a coach, sometimes as a friend who knows the value of that support. Either way, while we might feel alone in our journeys, we seldom truly are. There’s some stuff we have to go through alone; my kids couldn’t train for me, for instance. But the chances to celebrate, to share, to connect during each little victory? I wouldn’t trade those for the world.
You guys know I’m gonna connect this to Camp Makearoo now, right? Read below for info on attending a Day Camp on Saturday, May 11th. Dig in and find what you’re hungry to run from start to finish for and to start finding your tribe who will not only “get” the journey you’re on, but will cheer you along the way!