Y’all did it. You helped me raise the funds for the marathon and education fundraiser in Somaliland. Thank you.
And now that means I have to do this.
Uh, I mean get to do this.
But kind of? I mean I have to do this.
I’m kind of a chicken type of person.
You might not believe me. People call me brave. I rarely feel brave. I rarely feel competent. I often doubt my decisions, question my ability, cower before negative self-talk.
I am also stubborn. That’s one thing I have going for me. Stubborn works well for long-distance running. It works well for long-term cross-cultural living. It works well for the years of research and rejection and revising that go into book writing.
But stubborn is not the same as brave.
So I confess that I’m feeling nervous.
I have my plane ticket. I have my visa. I paid my fees and made our donation. I won’t back down (thank you Tom Petty), but I’m doing it afraid.
Anything can happen.
Anything can happen at any time and in any place. I know this full well. I’ve written about it several times.
There’s the marathon nerves that any runner feels before the start of a big race. We’ve spent months training our legs and lungs and brains. We’ve read for inspiration, woken up way too early, pooped in places we wish we hadn’t, downed GU by the bucketfull, kept pasta-makers in business. We’ve tweaked training plans and figured out the best shoes and running gear. We’ve given up on ever having ten toenails all at the same time. So we’re ready, but also not ready.
Its a frickin’ marathon.
That’s a long way.
26.2 miles. 42 kilometers.
The nerves are excited-nerves. I love this stuff. Running, education, the region, the people I’m meeting and spending time with. I love it.
But it is also outside my comfort zone.
So I’m nervous.
I’m nervous about being one of only a few women, only a few international runners, about the location, about what I’ll wear (I’m bringing several options). I’m nervous about the meetings I have arranged for before and after. I’m nervous that not everyone will be thrilled about this event.
My husband tells me to stop being so self-conscious. To not worry about what to wear or what to say or who to talk to, to not doubt myself, to be strong and assertive. He says, “Its all strange.” Meaning: female, running, white, foreign, Somali-speaker. He says to stop thinking so hard and to enjoy it.
I think that’s what it takes to do something while afraid. To jump in with both feet. Forget about dipping one toe in at a time. Forget about self and focus on what I know is true. This is such a unique opportunity. I should not waste time being timid or afraid.
I should be all me. Meaning: curious, interested, hopeful, excited.
Instead of bringing all my baggage of:
I’m too slow
Women don’t run here
I stick out
I look ridiculous
What was I thinking? (this will come in mile 22, if not before)
I should bring:
My love for Somali culture and the ways it has molded into my American-ness
My dreams of competitive female athletes from this region
My thrill at being part of this unique experience
All the Somalis who have loved me, welcomed me, helped me laugh my way through these years abroad, all the people who have fed me and clothed me (quite literally) and embraced my kids, and forgiven my faux pas, and shown me how to create a home here, and given me their courage when I lacked my own.
So yeah, I get to do this.
Here we go!
(Here are a couple of videos I made of my last two long runs, if you want a peek at running in Djibouti)