The Road To Quakerman: Thoughts On Getting Started

My friend, we’ll call him Dallas, recently completed is first Ironman triathlon.  Being the huge running geek that I am, I kept the Ironman website loaded on my laptop all day, periodically refreshing my browser to check his progress on the athlete tracking feature.  Finally, a little before 10pm, nearly 14 hours after the starting gun was fired, I watched Dallas become an Ironman, via the live online streaming of the finish line.  I got chills as I heard the announcers call his name and watched him offer a big salute as he crossed the line, the ultimate sign of respect to the country he so willingly serves.

So.  Freaking.  Inspiring.

I’m glad that I can think of Dallas as my friend now.  He started as a friend of a friend and a neighbor, then became an acquaintance, but now thanks to a shared interest in endurance sports, we’ve become friends as well.  After all, there is no greater equalizer than a 16 mile run on a chilly freezing cold February morning.

When trying to settle on my Next Big Thing I spent a fair amount of time picking Dallas’ brain about his triathlon experience.  He was actually the first person I told when I made the decision to register for Quakerman.  I felt like he understood, so I wanted his blessing.  He couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about my endeavor, and even connected me with his mentor, which gave me the confidence I needed to get started.

Which brings us to the actual “getting started” part.  How does one get started?  With anything, really.  Do you test the waters?   Or do you jump right in?  Do you look at the big picture?  Or focus in on the small details?  How many grand schemes or big dreams  have you given up on, simply because you didn’t know where to begin?  New beginnings are scary, and getting started is often the hardest part.

When deciding the best way to jump start this crazy ride, I recalled an earlier conversation with Dallas when he mentioned that one of his favorite weekend workouts was a ‘personal tri.’ He’d wake up early on a Saturday morning and kick off his day by completing each leg of an Olympic distance triathlon (0.93 mile swim, 25 mile bike ride, and a 6.2 mile run) before most of our little neighborhood had even woken up for day.  A personal tri seemed like the perfect way to launch my training program as well (somewhere between ‘jumping right in’ and ‘testing the waters’).  So the Saturday morning before my official triathlon workouts began, I awoke bright and early,  just like Dallas had recommended, and completed each leg of a sprint distance triathlon (0.47 mile swim, 12 mile bike ride, and a 3.1 mile swim).

I was exhausted when I completed the workout, but also felt energized and exhilarated by the challenge ahead of me.  I felt the rush of the unknown–a feeling that many people hide from, but I find myself seeking intentionally.

Understandably famished, I set out to make breakfast in completion of my favorite Saturday morning tradition: a big workout followed by a big brunch.  I felt like the start of this new journey was deserving of an extra special meal, so I decided to make a batch of Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes, a recipe I’d been working to perfect for the last month.  (check back tomorrow for the recipe!!)

As I sipped my coffee and methodically flipped my cakes, I thought some more about beginnings, and challenges, and changes.  Life in general, but especially life as a small-town-raised-single-twenty-something-girl-residing-in-the-big-city, is just a big mish-mash of beginnings and challenges and changes: New friends, new jobs and new apartments. Broken hearts and broken down cars.  The first dates, the stacks of bills, and the late nights.  (so clique, but so true)  I realized pretty early into my adult life, that I was going to have to make a decision.  I could let the overwhelming number of unknows send me over the edge, or I could embrace the changes and challenges, firmly believing that they are leading me down the path that God intended for me.  I could play the comparison game and try to measure out my life using the same ruler as my peers, or I could embrace my individually and authenticity, knowing that the life of one twenty-something can and should look drastically different from the next.

New beginnings for some look like weddings, houses, and babies.  New beginnings for others look like promotions at work, visits to new countries, and a girl’s very first triathlon.  All of the above holding their own individual challenges.  And all of the above being an A-OK way to live out your twenties.

I’ve started afresh plenty of times over the last 4 years, so Quakerman is just another leg of that journey.  So here I go, one stroke, one pedal, one step, one day at a time.

Remember that cheesy one hit wonder 90’s song Closing Time by the band Semisonic (totally had to google it because I didn’t know who sang it)?  The infamous line from that song is “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Yes that’s true.  But sometimes I think the following is even more true.

Every perfect ending comes from the courage to create a beginning.


Tall One

PS: Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for the recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes!  And keep watching for more Road To Quakerman posts : )


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