By Laura Moore
It's nice to show up and know you won't be in the top percentile, you won't be impressing your neighbor, you won't be leaving with your head held high, and an inner monologue of "I got this; what should my next challenge be?" running through your head.
Sometimes it's nice to enjoy something for the sake of trying, for the sake of being vulnerable, for the sake of pushing boundaries. It's nice to fall somewhere in the middle, to feel challenged and still have a lot of room to climb.
As a kid, I did everything I could to avoid that. I played sports where I excelled. I took classes that catered to my strengths. I volunteered to participate in activities I knew I could lead. When I sensed that I wouldn't do well in something, I choose a different path; I devoted my time and energy to a different cause. I had a GPA to worry about, colleges to get into, scholarships to secure.
But somewhere along the way--at Dartmouth, probably, although can't pinpoint the exact moment--I let some of that go. I started to take risks. I signed up for things I didn't know how to do. I failed. Then I picked myself back up and I figured out how to walk forward. I learned that sometimes trying teaches you more than winning, that seeing a huge mountain can sometimes push you farther than staring at stars.
When I moved to New York, my friend Yaidi asked me to take a New School art class with her and I agreed. Each Saturday morning we traveled around the city painting structures in Central Park, sketching faces at the MET and at the South Ferry Station, and capturing the city any way we could as we gazed out the wall of windows on the 92 floor of the North Tower. At the end of the last class, I still wasn't a competent artist, but my heart felt fuller in my chest.
When I moved back to Columbus, I decided to train for a marathon and I knew so little about the process, I didn't even realize you could run anything other than a charity 5K, a 5 mile Turkey Trot or the full twenty-six, so I didn't know people ran halfs or 10Ks or 15Ks. I didn't know this was something most people baby-stepped into. I just went for it all, knowing with each run that my friend Mandy and I were running farther than we ever had in our lives. We made mistakes, got hurt and learned on the fly. When the race results showed up in the paper on October 20, 2003, ours names were no where near the top, but they were there, and we earned it and somehow that felt a whole lot more than enough.
Today, my challenge is spinning. Today, its showing up at Cycle 614, losing myself in 80s music and glowing beneath the black lights. It's arriving in running spandex rather than biker shorts. It's tying up tennis shoes, not clipping in cleats. It's finding my name half way down the performance list of cyclists even though I'm pushing myself just as hard as I can.
I had to miss the last few weeks because it's been a doozy of a winter, but today when I arrived, I felt energy buzzing inside of me, and somewhere along the line as Katie, our instructor, pounded out the tunes and told us to turn up the resistance, as I pushed for more RPMs and challenged myself to keep my screen "red," as I strained for breath and felt my legs cry for mercy, my entire body filled to the brim.
"Last push," Katie said, counting down the sprint. I drove my legs as hard as they would go and when the time expired and I lifted up to stretch and breathe, I looked over at the final results. Tracing the trail of bike numbers, I searched for mine, and surprisingly it was only eight spots down on the list.
My best performance yet, I thought, smiling.
I'm so okay at this.
And that's absolutely fine.