Sunday, November 18, 2012

I'm Ready to Run

The first time I promised myself I was going to run the Troy Turkey Trot, I was twenty years old. I had a job I liked and was even interested in a girl at that job. My roommate Bill was the bouncer at Michael’s on Madison Ave., and the night before Thanksgiving, I saw that girl walk in when I was there with him. I remember she looked brighter than everyone else coming through the crowd, I remember that. I was wearing this new denim jacket I thought was so cool. Life? Figured out at twenty. One week later, I lost that job and any shot at that girl. With no income, back went the cool denim jacket to Macy’s. Nope, I had some things to work on still. I wasn’t ready to run yet.

The next few years were lost to the simple fact that the night before Thanksgiving meant everyone from high school was home for the weekend, so party hardy. It meant going out all night. I might’ve said I was going to run that Turkey Trot, might’ve even said it while standing at the bar at the Bayou or the Big House, eyes all a glaze, but I never actually meant it. I knew I wouldn’t be ready to run; it simply wasn’t a priority at that time. Still not ready.

Fast Forward and I’m twenty-five. In September when graduate school started, I announced I’d be running in November, come hell or high water I’d be at that Turkey Trot. I was on a treadmill three times a week. I was ready to take that race. I even made a crazy prediction of victory, which was laughed at by Tony who managed the St. Rose gym. A few days before the Thanksgiving Break, I realized I had messed up the first part of a whole-semester assignment, and instead of ripping up Downtown Troy my Thanksgiving Day was spent in front of a computer getting my mess ups corrected so I could submit the second part of that assignment by term’s end. Nope. No race for me. Man, I thought I was ready.

So many times we think we’re ready for the big job, the big house, the big race, but the truth is we’re not there yet. There’s still work to be done, mistakes to iron out. It can be frustrating when you set a goal and fall short. When you think you’re in a bigger, better place than you actually are. That can be hard. And many times it’s hard to see the bigger picture. But when it all works out, you understand why it was the way it was, and wouldn't trade it for the world. That year I was twenty-five. Still not ready to run.

Thanksgiving Weekend two years later: My ten-year reunion. Wow, had it already been a decade since I graduated high school? It was a weekend spent swapping stories of successes and marriages and just-born babies and living in Atlanta, and everything else my classmates were up to at 27 and 28 years old. Again, I felt pretty good. I had earned an AA, a BA, and just recently a MS, working my first “real” job, even living with a woman. We had a dog. Yep, I had it all figured out. No need to run that Turkey Trot. Who did I have to prove anything to? Then life threw another, wholly-unexpected curve. By June, the job was gone, the girl a month later, and the next three months after that, nightly nightmares about the dog I’d left behind. Enter the dark time.

Five years later, the girl is back and the dog is watching me write this. In fact, she has two little sisters now. Three spoiled dogs. The three months I went without that woman and that dog were the worst. But life has so many curve balls, and fate gave me a second chance with her to iron out my mistakes. Thank you, fate. Within hours of reconciliation, my life went right back to good. Literally: Hours. Now we’re married, the apartment is a house, and talk of making a family is in full swing. So often, when I look back, I can’t believe I was able to make this work out right. How did I get so lucky? All those times in my past were actually the building blocks of my present, whether I knew it or not.

So the other night--when the call came from rather-athletic cousins on my wife’s side--asking if I wanted to run the Turkey Trot with them/against them, I didn’t hesitate before saying, “sign me up.” Yep, I think I’m ready to run. Change that: I know I’m ready. And my wife, with her parents, will watch us run, and cheer, and this is the way it was always meant to be. This is what all those past failures were building towards. I’m so glad this year will be my first. I couldn’t think of a better way to make my Turkey Trot premiere, running with people I love, running alongside family, not alone.

And I promise, if I see that victory tape still unbroken when I round for home, I’m going to hit that last piece with every ounce of energy I have. (For the record, if I finish in the top 1,000 it will be a miracle.) Why? I’ve been waiting my whole life to run this race. And I’ll have a full tank still because I know who’ll be waiting on the other side of that finish line. And the knowing, there could be no greater motivator. The knowing it's going to be all right in the end. See, I've already won. And . . .

I’m ready to run.

Brian Huba

PS: In case you're wondering, I finished 360th place out of 5700 runners. I had a time of 22:52. I was beaten by 307 men and 52 women. Added on 11.25.12

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