When I was little I loved the shows that were on during the holidays: the animated Peanuts cartoons for Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas; all the Christmas movies, actually. The Wizard of Oz, if I remember correctly, was always on in September, and the Sound of Music was on in the spring. It was heartbreaking if you had to miss it, because you missed it for a whole year. I remember looking through the TV Guide weekly during December to map out which shows were on when. Inevitably there were always shows on Wednesday night, which was church night. I didn't always miss those, but I often missed those, and what a gigantic disappointment that was. Really the biggest gift wasn't the show itself, it was waiting for it to air--thinking about it, preparing for it. It was the anticipation that made those shows so special.
These days anticipation is a little hard to come by. You can have whatever you want, whenever you want it. I can watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in July, if I want to. Anticipation is part of the reason I like racing. It happens when it happens and you can't force it to come any sooner just because you want it to. The night before the race you gather your gear and plan your race morning. You wonder if you're ready and you hope you can sleep.
Which brings me to where I am right now: resting in a chair with my feet up, staring at my supplies for my first 24 hour ultra race--and waiting: waiting to go get my packet, waiting to eat my pre-race dinner, waiting to find out if my family found chocolate almond milk...what if we can't find chocolate almond milk? I'm going to want chocolate almond milk. Waiting to take a bath so that I can sleep, waiting to find out if I sleep...waiting to get the car packed and get dressed and get coffee in the morning...waiting to see who comes to run a loop with me...waiting to find out if I find reserves of strength I didn't know I had, or waiting to find out if I totally bonk, or both...waiting to see what the weather does, waiting to see what my body does, waiting to see what my mind does. How bad is this going to hurt? What's it going to be like out in the dark at 12am? 1am? 2am? 3am? Will I ever have moments when I am totally in the experience and grateful to be there? And how hard will it be to resist quitting? Did these miles I put in this summer prepare me for this at all? Will I feel different when it's over? What will my coach say? What stories will I have to tell? Will I learn anything? Will I make a friend?
Will it be worth it?
Well, I don't know. I can't know. That's the beauty of anticipation--you can't force it, whatever it is, to move or start. You have to sit in that swirl of nerves and excitement and projections and hope and doubt. It's called vitality, it's called living, when every cell is at attention and there is nothing more to do except to wait and wonder what will be.
Now it's time to go get my packet. The movement has started. I'm so grateful to be in these positions where I'm outside my comfort zone, feeling inside out and totally alive, wondering how this is going to all shake out in the end. I am grateful, antsy, excited and scared and 100% ready to start it, to go through it, and to find out what's on the other side.