They say that writing your thoughts down will make you feel better. Well, I don’t know how typing this out is going to cure my cold, but I’ll give it a try.
I went into this season with a healthy mixture of optimism, skepticism and in a new role at work. Never could I imagine where it would end up; with a front row seat to one of the best TEAMS in A’s history. They weren’t necessarily the most talented (though I think their talent is very underrated), but the most supportive, embracing and fun group of players and fans I’ve ever seen in my whopping 25 years on Earth. The fans whole heartedly supported these players and the players gave the fans everything they had.
It can sometimes feel as though there is a barrier separating the players on the field from the fans in the stands, but over the last several months, that wall disappeared in Oakland. Whether it was Josh Reddick sending up a championship belt and Spiderman costume to Right Field or the way the Balfour Rage and the Bernie spread across the stadium or on a serious note, the way the players and fans supported each other in times of need, this group became the definition of a team.
We expected a Hollywood ending, and as the ball was tossed from second to first for that final out, I know many of us thought, “No. It can’t end like this.” But in a way, we did get our movie finish. We got a unique moment in sports, the kind of thing that just doesn’t happen often.
The fans stayed.
The fans stayed even though the team was down by six runs and the best pitcher in baseball was on the mound and they cheered their team as the season ended. We didn’t see the players hang their heads and quietly walk into the clubhouse. We saw them come out, stand on the field, wave to their fans, hug each other. That’s not to say they weren’t devastated, of course they were. We all were sad to see such a wonderful season put to rest. But we also were left with an incredible moment that showed how much these players and these fans truly embraced each other this year.
And while it’s not a championship, it’s the kind of thing that will stay in our minds forever, just like the Bernie Lean song.
For most of my life, I’ve been under the (false, oh so very, very false) impression that successful people are born successful. They spring into life with a talent and are destined to fulfill some important role. Rarely do you see the struggles, the true account of “before they were famous”, other than the awkward 6th grade yearbook photo that says, “Hey look, she’s just like you!” What you don’t see is the sweat, the tears of doubt, the determination to succeed overcoming all else. This has always been my image of runners and the very athletic. They sprang from the womb with Asics on and never looked back. This view may have always deterred me from running. “I’m not really a runner” was always my excuse and I assume it’s the rationalization many people use. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become (if only a tiny bit) wiser. When I decided to run a half marathon, the first thing I did was look for something that would help make me more successful as I was not one of these chosen Asics-wearing, super fetuses. I found an app for my iPhone called Half Marathon Coach which had an option called “Couch to Half.” As I was on my couch at the time, I figured this option was for me. When I started, I couldn’t run a full mile, but that was ok. My new electronic coach wasn’t going to make me do that right off the bat. I started doing three days a week of running just 20 minutes, alternating between running three minutes and walking two. I’m not too prideful to admit even this was not my idea of fun, but it wasn’t so hard that I dreaded doing it. I was sore the first few times I ran. Getting off of BART to walk to work with stiff legs was the definition of “suckitude.” But after that, I started to get not so sore, running for three minutes got easier. After a couple weeks, I started running 5 minutes at a time and walking two. That sucked, and then it didn’t. 7 minutes, walk one. 10 minutes, walk one. 15 minutes, walk one. All the time, I was increasing how long I was running. It didn’t happen over night. In fact, I started 7 months before my race, but little by little, I noticed my legs looked and felt stronger. I started to feel healthier, no longer craving junk food all time time. (Confession: I had In ‘N Out for lunch today, but I had a salad yesterday. Moderation, baby.) These byproducts of running are fantastic, but more than anything I’ve felt empowered by the whole experience. It’s been a first hand experience for me of how hard work, focus and determination can really pay off. I’m not by any means preaching the gospel of half marathons. They may not be for everyone. But if I, a person who has uttered the phrase, “I hate running!” so many times the words lost meaning, can be a week and a half away from a half marathon, then perhaps we all can put our minds to conquering goals in life. And if it’s running that is your Everest, then well, you’ll probably look really good in a skirt when it’s all said and done.
Back in January, I decided to run a half marathon. I was really just rolling the idea around in my mind until I came across the San Francisco Marathon, which was planned for July 29th. Anyone who has spent any time with me will recognize the date as my birthday. Because I’m really annoying about my birthday. And not only is this race happening on my birthday, it’s my 25th birthday. When I read that, I knew it was a sign that I had to go for it. So, for the last six months, I’ve been working my way up to 13.1 miles. Today, I completed 8 miles, the longest distance I have ever run, and boy do my legs hurt. Bad. Honestly, I had time to write this because I can’t get off the couch to do anything else.
My mom has always said that by the age of 25, a person should have accomplished at least one big thing. I feel as though I have accomplished a fair amount for a 24 and 11 month year old. I’ve traveled around the world, graduated from college, have a cool job in sports television, but I’ve never done something that was completely mine. I can’t take all the credit for a lot of the cool stuff I’ve done because I had so much help and support along the way from my family, friends, teachers and coworkers. Of course that’s not to discredit or diminish any of those accomplishments or to say I’m in any way ungrateful for or unappreciative of the experiences I’ve been fortunate enough to have. There’s just something different about attempting to finish this half marathon.
It went against every fiber of my being to get off the couch in the morning, lace up my running shoes and run. When I started, I couldn’t run a mile without walking. Heck, I probably couldn’t (or didn’t want to) run half a mile. But I’ve worked my way up to 8. There was no one there telling me to run or checking up on me to make sure I was doing it. It has just been me. So this is the accomplishment I’m choosing to count as my “one big thing” before I turn 25. As long as I finish before 2:39 in the afternoon.