Don’t Mind the Gaps & Kick Some Ass

Last January I struggled through—however completed—my first ever 5k. It was a huge feat for me, as the only previous accomplishment I’d made in running was beating my dog in a sprint across the backyard. Then again I only won that because my dad got home right as I yelled “Start!” and my dog b-lined into the house to greet him. But after some deliberation,  the officials (me) and I (me) agreed that it was deemed a forfeit, thus crowning me the lawn sprint champ of 2014.

While I was training for the 5k, I discovered something very important. A place within—that is found in all of us—that whole heartedly believed that I could. It was a resounding YES that drowned out all of the previous “no’s”, and it was unintimidated by failure because it thrived off of the courage of a try. I started calling it the BIFC (pronounced bifsee) door, a.k.a the Because I F*cking Can door. A passage way to success that our negative selves like to keep shut, however we can kick open Kool-Aid man style and achieve our wildest dreams.

In November of last year, after months of kicking at this door and feeling it resist, and having recently completed a half marathon relay with my sister (I ran half, handed her the baton and she ran the rest), I was standing behind yet another starting line, wondering how in the hell I would make it through a full half marathon (13.1 miles) alone.

Suddenly the gun sounded, a cheer erupted and the MC came through the speakers yelling “GO! GO! GO!” And as the pitter patter of hopeful runners began to fill the air I felt nervous, but then I thought of my Papa.

A while back my mom told me about a theory he had regarding traffic.

“There are always gaps.”

As a native Southern Californian, I am extremely familiar with traffic and the hold it can place on an entire day. However it is true that every once in a while, whether we notice them or not, there are breaks. Gaps. Little openings that give us the opportunity to cruise. But being the impatient drivers that we are, we usually see these openings as an opportunity to wildly accelerate, if only to prove to ourselves and those around us that we still know how.

When the gun sounded that November morning and the feet around me started clamoring to run, I felt that familiar pressure to keep up. To go fast. To wildly accelerate in order to impress those around me. But in that moment, I thought of my Papa and decided to take a deep breath and cruise. And as the herd of hungry runners passed me and the walkers faded behind me, I quickly found myself in a gap. There was no pace to worry about keeping, no faces to worry about impressing. This race was mine to run, and there was no one else I needed to worry about.

Later, as my mile count grew, and the finish line approached, I began to notice the throng of people lining the streets cheering. They didn’t care what my pace was. They didn’t want to know about everyone I had passed or who had passed me. They simply wanted to help me finish my race. And as I smiled back in gratitude, I thought back to all the times I’d stood on the sidelines, praising others yet doubting myself.

On the last mile, I saw a woman holding a handmade sign that said, “You can do it!” And as I glanced at the bystanders surrounding her I hoped that, along with every runner, they too read these words. That they too heard that voice within and thought to themselves, “Maybe I can too.” For having recently completed my second half marathon, I truly believe with the courage to try and the patient to cruise, you can accomplish anything. And if anyone should stand in your way, doubting you, including yourself, and ask, “why?” Answer back with a smile and a swift kick to the door in front you, “Why? Because I F*cking Can.”

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