I cried when I crossed the finish line of the 2016 NYC Marathon.
At first, I wasn’t sure why. I didn’t achieve my time goal. I didn’t survive a suffer-fest. I had a decent marathon effort that in retrospect, I give a solid “B”. But I cried. I buried my face in my hands. I locked eyes with an older man who finished at the same time I did. He was crying too. We held hands and half-embraced. Nodded at each other and smiled.
I cried because I was as emotionally raw as I’ve ever been. I only get that emotional when I am obscenely drunk and when I finish marathons.
And I suppose that is why I run.
I run because I am not comfortable with emotions. I am not comfortable with being uncomfortable. I am not comfortable with public displays of affection. I am stoic, focused, disciplined. Calm.
But at some point on a 26.2 mile journey, that barrier breaks down. Pain creeps in. Boundaries collapse. The most primal, raw, uncontrollable aspects of who I am and how I feel bubble to the surface and I am too exhausted to suppress them. So I cross a finish line, bawl my face off, and for one moment, am intimately connected with a complete stranger who is the only person in the world who knows exactly what I am going through.
Being that open, that vulnerable, is terrifying.
But it’s also freeing.
It’s something I wish I had the strength to cultivate more of in my everyday life.
Until that happens, I will run. Away from my fears, my insecurity. Away from doubt. Away from second-guessing myself. Away from negativity, from self-imposed stress and anxiety.
When I run, I embrace pain. Embrace emotions. Embrace strangers.
And, eventually, I’ll be able to embrace myself.
As I finished the NYC marathon, that’s what I did. I embraced my race, my effort. I did the best I could on the day I had with the circumstances I was given. In that moment, it was enough. I was enough.
And it was okay to cry because of it.