This I Believe

Paula - Houston, Texas
Entered on February 11, 2009
Age Group: 50 - 65

Long before The Bucket List I had decided that running the Houston Marathon should be on my life’s list. I was athletic as a kid, but was built a lot more like a linebacker than a whippet. But as the training miles racked up, it became apparent that my knees just did not have the same dream.

I read Ken Hoffman’s column one day about his MS150 bike ride from San Antonio to Corpus Christi and he said the magic words: it was downhill. I decided right then that a 170 mile bike ride was an acceptable substitute for a 26 mile run. Besides, there’s a lot to be said about a sport where you get to sit down.

It wasn’t going to be that simple either. It took me 4 years, two knee surgeries, one try at Corpus Christi and over 2,500 miles of training before I rode every last mile from Houston to Austin in the MS 150 last year. It was one of the most incredible, joyful, painful and exhilarating experience I think I have ever had. But it took a few months later to figure out why it meant so much to me.

It wasn’t exactly that I had actually done it…It was because I didn’t think I could. All the things that got in the way those 4 years and every time I drove to Austin, I said “I can’t do this. Are you nuts?”

I have come to believe that it’s good for my soul to try something I don’t think I can do. Children learn confidence by tackling one thing, then another, better prepared each time to take on the next. I believe that no matter how old I become, I must keep challenging myself to take on something that seems impossible or too difficult because in doing that I stay young and fresh and alive.

As I see friends lose jobs and soon after their faith in themselves, I recognize that same fear in me that comes when memory can’t retrieve that word I need or I wonder sometimes what lies ahead. I believe the secret of life is to keep reaching and stretching and taking on those things I don’t think I can do because the next big hill will be easier since I have done all the other ones.

Since that ride to Austin, I have done two others that I was not able to finish, but I’m training for another because the journey has become enough.

And by the way Ken, San Antonio to Corpus is definitely not downhill.