Goethe wrote that “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffective, concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) …that the moment one definitely commits oneself–then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in ones’ favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” Powerful words that I’m starting to take to heart.
It all began last year. I told myself that I wanted to see Cambodia. Yes, I wanted to see it for the most touristy but I-know-will-be-amazing reason that is Angkor Wat. To temporarily satisfy my wanderlust for all things Angkor, I would go online and look at other people’s pictures, read about their travels to the magnificent-looking ruins, and read everything there is about Cambodia–from the its history to its hotels (I was scouring for accommodations early on).
In the process of devouring every single piece of travel information there was, I stumbled upon the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon. My heart skipped a little beat. You see, I have always fancied myself before as a runner. I liked how simple and convenient running was, I liked that it gave lethargic me a quick boost of energy, and I especially looked forward to it every Sunday because I would be able to chat with a good friend during the run. Unfortunately, I only did it every Sunday. By the time running took off a few years ago in Manila, my old running shoes were already stashed at the back of my shoe rack.
I told P, who joins races when he can, about the half-marathon. “Maybe we can see Angkor Wat during the time.” And because he writes for a health and fitness magazine, I added, “Maybe we can even join the race and you can write about it.” He said we needed to train for it. Of course, I thought. That it wasn’t just a 5k or 10k race, which he usually joined. Agreed! That it’s 21 kilometers. “Okay, so we train for it!” I said. My husband, knowing all too well my long and comfortable couch-potato past, gave me a you-have-to-commit-to-this-if-you-want-to-do-this look. “Run a 5k race here first.” He said.
What happened last year? I never got around to running a 5k race or any race. Sure, I would take out my old pair of shoes to run in the treadmill at home, but it never became a habit. I would do yoga when I didn’t want to put on my painful shoes, and I would lace up those shoes and run when yoga and all its sweaty breathing and difficult positions just felt constricting and was nowhere as relaxing as running. That half-marathon added to my fear-driven list of things-I-wish-I-can-do-but-I-know-I’ll-never-get-around-to-doing. With such an attitude, I was really bound not to do them.
Before the previous year was over, P and I finally booked our tickets to Vietnam, so we could travel from Saigon to Siem Reap in Cambodia this year. (There are no direct flights from Manila to Siem Reap.) Even though the trip is still in December, I have already gone into hyper-planning mode. I have resurrected all the PDFs and doc files I had gathered before, have clicked on the websites I had visited last year…and then I saw it. The Angkor Wat International Half Marathon was going to be held on the same week we were going to be in Siem Reap.
It felt like serendipity. I felt like the universe was telling me something–here’s another chance for you to do this, here’s your chance to focus and commit to something beyond your family, beyond your writing. Perhaps, it was because the year had just started and making resolutions was the norm, but I made a pact with myself that I was going to do it. I was going to start running regularly. Run a 5k race. Run a 10k race. Train for 21k and see Angkor Wat while on a half-marathon.
Yes, providence moves as well. P bought me a new pair of running shoes. Last weekend, I found myself glued to the Ironman Triathlon coverage in ESPN and found inspiration from the triathletes I saw cross the finish line, especially the ‘regular Joes’, the seniors, the stay-at-home moms, the ones right before the cut-off. This week, I had to interview a travel host who turned out to be a runner and triathlete who has finished an Ironman Triathlon in Australia, and who kept telling me, “It can be done. It can be done.”
I have started running again. I ran on Monday and Tuesday, and today, I woke up and–I couldn’t believe it–I couldn’t wait to run. So I did. It feels really good that for 30 minutes or so, I get to stop what I’m doing and do something good for my body. That that little act of mine, if I do it often enough, will eventually help me take on something bigger than me. I’m sure there will be days when I wouldn’t feel like running. When it wouldn’t feel convenient or good. So I’m writing this here now–to declare that pact I made with myself. That half-marathon in December 2011 is getting scratched off the things-I-wish-I-can-do-but-I-know-I’ll-never-get-around-to-doing list. Starting now.