In two and a half hours the gun will start the Empire State Half Marathon and I will be somewhere near the starting line, way back in the pack behind the fast people. Still, I'll run the thing. I feel obligated since I paid the entry fee, but there's more to it. I could eat the fee, but I can't stomach the idea of not running the race this time around.
Over the past months I've run very few miles. I'm working on some things and dealing with a crazed schedule (my kids play fall sports and take dance classes and Hebrew school), I haven't made time for running. I'm focused on other things or distracted. I keep saying, "I've got to get myself out to run," but I don't have to at all. Running is a choice, one I've come to enjoy and feel a need for, but it's still a choice and I've chosen not to run.
Everything is choice. Obligations don't exist, just things we choose to be obligated to. This writing for instance and getting up at 4:45 to write. No obligations, just choices. It's the same with running. I've mostly chosen not to, but today I choose to be obligated to 13.1 miles.
Today, untrained as I am, I will run the Empire Half Marathon. I'm trying to tell myself some things. One, that it's good to run when I can because I feel better after a run than I did before. Two, that I can do difficult things because I'm stronger than maybe I have a right to be.
After two months of so little running, I have no right to think to imagine I can do 13.1 miles. Yet, I'm sure I can. I won't run fast, but I'll go the distance, for sure. I've already gotten out of bed and that's the hardest part. So long as I put myself in a starting position, I will finish. The toughest choice is one I've already made. The rest is easier.
I may earn my first-ever DNF (Did Not Finish) and, if so, I can live with that, but I can't imagine it. I'd have to suffer a catastrophe. Otherwise I just keep going knowing that the end of the thing is at the finish line.
The finish line isn't a real ending any more than the staring line is a real beginning. It's all part of a much longer race I've run, walked, and crawled for almost half a century. Today is the tiniest fraction of that and so nota big deal, run or not run, finish or not finish. It's one choice.
But here's the paradox: one choice is an entire universe.
Today, in order to make the universe, I choose to run 13.1 and write on.