Finding the Courage to Do Big Things

Susan Donnelly finds the courage and confidence to run Moab 200-mile ultramarathon

On weekday mornings, I run six miles on my neighborhood streets.

One morning a few weeks ago, I passed my neighbor Roy as he drove out on his regular morning errand and we waved to each other. He recently lost his left leg to an infection. 

His leg. 

A few hours later, I learned that Yvonne, a woman I’d worked for for years, died unexpectedly overnight. She was four years younger than me. 

Four years.

“What if something happened tomorrow and I couldn’t do all the things I still want to do in my life?” I wondered for the umpteenth time.

The truth is,

Someday isn’t around forever.

When I catch myself thinking “Oh, I couldn’t do that,” “I can’t afford it,” “It’s probably beyond me,” or “Maybe next year,” I think of people like Roy and Yvonne and instead ask…

“What if I got to the end of my life and hadn’t even tried this? How would that feel?”

Which is exactly how I made the crazy, unrealistic, this-would-be-stupid-but-maybe-its-possible gamble in mid-September, an hour before the deadline, to sign up for the Moab 200-mile race four weeks away in October.

Sitting there that evening with the Moab registration button staring back at me on my laptop screen, I weighed the decision. 

I had one, precious, free weekend of rest in the next six busy ones - six - and that was it. Plus, a 200-mile race like Moab takes me two weeks to travel there, run the race, and travel back. If I was going to do it and everything else, I was literally going to have to cram it in my schedule and some things were going to temporarily have to give.

I’d already spent a lot of time away in the last two months, so I’d have to work extra hard at my day job and be away from my partner another two weeks. And just getting to each weekend’s race would require precision timing with little room for leisure or error. 

But the window was there and my chance to run this race might not come again. Things happen. Races get cancelled, conflicts pop up, and who knows - I could be injured in a car wreck and unable to run it. 

If nothing else, this year with these conditions and the friends who’d be there, would never come again.

There are all sorts of reasons to go small. Money, limited vacation time, time away from family, commitments like houses and cars and events. The list is endless.

I had a chance I wasn’t willing to pass up.

I had a choice I didn’t want to regret later.  

The next time you’re tempted to go small, think of your own Roys and Yvonnes. Then make the choices and take the chances you want, while you can.

Someday isn’t around forever. You don’t have to do everything NOW but you do have to make a choice, so choose what makes you feel most alive while you have the chance.

Be alive by choice,

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