When The Impossible Becomes Possible

I’ve had this shirt for months after Donnie joined our family to the local Tri club. I finally feel like I can wear it now!

I don’t know many people who grew up running marathons or triathlons. Most of the people I run with are like me, they decided to brave these things as an adult. And we all agree the younger versions of ourselves would be quite surprised. As a matter of fact, most of us know we never would have ever thought it possible. And some are even like me and said, point blank, things like “I will never do a triathlon.”

Yet, here we all are, running our first 5K, doing or first triathlon, our first marathon, our first ultra marathon. And it got me thinking about the point at which the Impossible suddenly seems Possible. The transition is not entirely clear in my head with my running career. I remember it was Pamie’s write-up about her first marathon that made running a marathon suddenly seem possible. And I think it was meeting people who had done ultra marathons, finding out they weren’t all top-tier athletes who run 6-minute miles, that made it seem possible for me to do an ultra. This is why I always tell people who don’t think they could do a 5K, “Go to a decent-sized 5K in your area and sit at the finish line. Watch all of the people who cross it. It’s not just one type of person who does things things…it’s all types of people.”

The transition to POSSIBILITY with the triathlons is more clear in my head. First, I said a million times to a million people, “I don’t do Tris. I don’t bike or swim. That’s Donnie’s thing. I stick to running.” Everyone I know heard me say it at least once. Donnie heard me say it a million times. And my most recent variation of this statement? The one that cracks me up now?

“A triathlon not even really on my bucket list. I mean, I could see me doing a 100-miler before I’d ever do a triathlon.”

That’s how IMPOSSIBLE the triathlons seemed to be for me.

The first thing that made it begin to seem possible was a running friend (new to triathlons) telling me that people stop during a swim and hold on to the buoys or the safety patrol and catch their breath. She said you can’t travel forward with whatever you’re holding, but people stop and take breaks all the time. I about died. WHAT? You can Stop? And take a breath? Suddenly, that made swimming seem less daunting. Then, another newbie mentioned her first tri in a pool and that she stopped and held on to the side and the ropes SEVERAL times to take breaths.

Those two people and their stories shifted the triathlon thing a hair away from “Impossible” and closer to “Possible.”

But, I still was worried about the bike. And a friend told me that she signed up for the Fleet Feet class and the first bike-riding night they had to teach her how to get on her bike. That’s how little she understood bike riding. And I thought, Hell! I can get on a bike! I can even ride it, sort of, in a straight line!

So…that’s kinda why I write about these things so much over here. I want to document this process. How it is that you can believe something entirely impossible one day and then…some time later…you’re doing just that thing. You’re doing exactly what you never thought possible.

Maybe it’s running a 5K, maybe it’s running a marathon. Maybe it’s doing a duathlon or a triathlon. Whatever it is that you think impossible just know that I and at least half of my running/tri friends all thought the same thing. People like Donnie don’t ever think like that, but the majority of us crossing those finish lines aren’t like Donnie. They didn’t always know they’d be doing that thing. The majority of them are like you and I. People who just one day went from, Never! to Maybe…

2 thoughts on “When The Impossible Becomes Possible”

  1. Sarah Lena – Huntsville, AL – Sarah Lena has been writing online since the internet was born, or at least since it was cruising around living room furniture and drooling on everything. Her personal blog, The Anvil Tree, is where she basically moans and kvetches on a regular basis. Sarah Lena's deep love of pop culture knows no bounds, and there is no reality show she won't touch, no child-star she won't coax into rehab, and no Gosselin she won't awkwardly try and defend a little.
    Sarah Lena says:

    My moment was one of my running coaches in my 5k training class talking about the half marathon she completed. We were run/walking a 14 min mile at the time, and I asked how she managed to run the whole thing.

    “I didn’t. I walked, too.”

    OH EM GEE. I couldn’t BELIEVE it. Halfs and marathons were races for people who WALK, too.

    Still looking to get a half in at some point, but it’s not an IMPOSSIBILITY anymore!

  2. I am proud of you. I don’t even KNOW you (yet I feel like I do) but I am super proud. I was mentally cheering you on, I promise!

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