This may not seem like a big deal to some, but it is a huge deal to me.
I am always the person who organizes, plans, controls. I don’t always want to be but often that’s the role I fall into and I do it fairly willingly. When something needs to be organized, the people I am with often look to me. I used to resist this, but I often end up with this attitude of, “I’ll do it because nobody else will.” That’s probably not true, but that’s the way it feels.
Lately, having started running with Jody Lenarcic and her wonderful husband, Gerry. I have been given the opportunity to let go of control a bit and it’s been quite liberating. Gerry is also an organizer, and when we run he picks our route and makes sure we don’t get lost on the trails. It felt a bit weird at first, but now it’s a lot easier. We run in the Lac Du Bois Grasslands area just above Bachelor Heights in Kamloops. There is an extensive trail network for runners and mountain bikers and this area is right above where Jody and Gerry live.
It feels a bit alarming but even though I’m pretty famous for memorizing landmarks and trails, I would have a hard time running in that area by myself. In the past year I’ve ceded control to Gerry when it comes to trail choice and making sure I don’t get lost.
We decided to do the Beat the Blerch 10K run in Seattle. The run itself is fantastic – one of the best I’ve ever done. It’s the brainchild of a writer and cartoonist known as The Oatmeal (Matthew Inman). He wrote an essay / book called The terrible and wonderful reasons why I run long distances. In it he describes a creature called the Blerch – that voice in your head that tries to stop you from bothering to reach your goals. The idea is that the Blerch is always chasing you, trying to get you to succumb to laziness and excuses. The goal of any runner on any run is to literally beat the Blerch and not let it catch them. For this race, there are live guys dressed as Blerches chasing you on the course, there is a couch for you to rest on, magical fizzy grape juice and cake at the water station, and lots of people in costume. It was our first time at this event and it was outstanding. We will definitely be doing it again.
The crazy part of this trip, however, was only partially the race itself. It was the fact that I consciously, and deliberately, let go of control and refused to let myself organize anything. We had an entire weekend just outside Seattle and I organized nothing. I felt a bit panicked and out of control… like I was going to forget something, or be surprised by something, the whole time. Well, I was surprised… by a lot of things.
When I think about signing up for any race I always look at past results to see roughly where I would finish. I deliberately don’t do small events where I would likely finish last and they would be waiting for me to finish… memories of high school. I usually choose bigger events where I will likely finish somewhere in the middle.
For this event, I refused to let myself look at past results. Instead, I looked at all the fun we could have. Jody and I don’t run fast but we do like to have fun.
I also gave up all control – hotel, transportation, restaurants, etc… all of it… to Gerry and everyone else. There were 5 of us and I controlled nothing the entire weekend. I thought I was going to have a heart attack but I did it. Gerry picked the hotel and reserved it, I jumped into the backseat of their truck and took on the role of passenger. Diane and Catherine met us at the hotel. Right now I can’t even remember which hotel it was… this is astonishing for me!
I think it’s generally a good thing that I’m usually the organizer, but I think it’s good to not do it every once in a while too. The biggest thing I had to learn was to just let it happen, enjoy the process, and embrace the surprises that came my way when I wasn’t so busy making things happen.
We left on the Saturday and the run was on the Sunday. We were staying on the edge of Kirkland, WA (home of Costco) and all of my travel companions decided we would go down to Lake Washington to find a restaurant for dinner. Catherine had been there before. I was along for the ride and agreed to go anywhere. It turns out the waterfront area of Kirkland is spectacular and we were treated to a good dinner, and a fantastic walk after where we enjoyed one of the most amazing sunsets I’ve ever seen. I took hundreds of pictures. We walked along the dock area looking at all the boats, enjoyed the amazing array of street performers and public sculptures, and just had a wonderful time together. I probably would have looked for a restaurant close to the hotel and I’m so glad for the surprises we enjoyed that evening.
The next day we went to the start area, which was somewhere in the country (??? no idea where) – I didn’t actually memorize the map of the area like I had before.
It was pouring rain and beautiful. Jody and I didn’t have a spectacular run – we hadn’t trained as much as we would have liked and the humidity nearly did me in. We didn’t finish last – I think we were somewhere in the middle. I don’t really know because to this day I haven’t looked at the results. I know I had a great time, and I know my time probably wasn’t great… if that makes sense!
When Amanda and I went to Florida in February I also gave control to her for the Disney World portion of our trip, and with good reason, she’s a Disney freak and possibly even more of an organizer than I am. She was brilliant! If you are thinking of a trip to Disneyland, check out her new blog Call Me Sweetness. I was in charge of our Universal day, however, so I still had some organizational responsibilities. It turns out they didn’t work out so well and we had to improvise… but no matter.
Why was this crazy?
We all have roles in our lives that we are comfortably, or uncomfortably, slotted into. These are the roles we are expected to fall into when we are with our friends, family, coworkers, etc. I am always the responsible one… it’s who I am. Choosing to not be that person, while not being irresponsible, was definitely out of my comfort zone.
Would I do it again?
Oh yeah! Not only does it make me try on and embrace a different role, it was unbelievably liberating. I felt like I was floating, often without direction, and going where the wind, or the people I was with, decided to take me. It’s a good thing to practice. It was definitely uncomfortable, but I just had to trust the people I was with and learning to do that is a very good thing as well.