In The Heart

As I've mentioned here a few times lately, I recently traveled to Greece to document Terry Cockburn's solo marathon in the birthplace of the marathon. In the heart of Athens, she woke in the pre-dawn hours, not for a medal or fanfare, without support or spectators, but for the simple joy of the work and the beauty of the challenge. She met unexpected obstacles along the way, a planned route that had to be scrapped, brutal hills, high temps, traffic that never yields to the pedestrian, and yet she ran on, continuing to put one foot in front of the other until she reached 26.2.

It's never easy to push ourselves, to step out of what we know and away from what is comfortable to pursue a goal, and I would argue that that is especially true when the goal is seemingly arbitrary and comes without public accolade, when it doesn't "count" for anything "official". It's in these kinds of pursuits that true character shines through, in these moments that a person's real mettle is truly tested. Pride can't carry you- no one is watching. There is nothing but the internal dynamic, the potential dialogue with our inner self-critic when inevitable doubt creeps its way in during a moment of exhaustion, the choices we make about which of the stories we tell ourselves we allow to become truth. 

Terry is an athlete in the truest sense of the word. She is one of the most disciplined and driven and focused people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. She is a runner and a yogi and a teacher and a mother and a wife and a business owner and a writer, and that doesn't even scratch the surface of all that she puts out into the world. Her dedication to this challenge and the mental acuity she brought to the pursuit was fascinating to watch and an honor to be a part of.

Be sure to read more about Terry's run here!

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Nothing like a little yin yoga during a layover to keep things loose...or checking email...the realities of being a business owner...

Getting a sense of the city...and realizing that the marathon route planned from home wasn't going to work...

Miles of walking the hills of Athens in pursuit of a new route...

Game day. The route was still a little shaky, but Terry wasn't. Long before first light, she was ready.

A little dynamic warm-up, and off she went.

Running past the Panathenaic Stadium at first light...

...along the National Garden...

...and into the First Cemetery of Athens...

...and to the Acropolis, through the throngs of tourists that began to gather as the hours passed...

A quiet finish among the crowds in the Plaka...

Who needs a medal when there is gelato and waffles?

Full

Life has been full lately. Too full...again. I promised myself that this fall would be a little slower, that I would save a little more space for quiet mornings in the woods and casting flies into the rivers still open for fishing. But alas, it's been a "too full" kind of year and really, that's okay.

I think this fullness is a natural part of preparing for our next stage, preparing to leave this place we've called home and step into whatever this next part of our lives will look like. There are a million things, big and small, that go into uprooting your life, into wrapping up the business both professional and personal that must be closed before new doors can be opened. I admit that it can be tedious and tiresome, and it often bears no resemblance to the romance that is often associated with creating a life on the road. But this is the work of the thing, these are the hours that go into earning the beauty and adventure that we are preparing for. And I suspect that when the beauty and adventure arrive, they will be that much sweeter for the work. 

So I will take the small moments between, and I will notice them, cherish them. I will cup my hands around my favorite mug and watch the play of light as the steam rolls off in the chill of the autumn morning. I will laugh from my gut when I find my fluffy dog sleeping upside down and covered in pine needles and dirt in her most recently dug hole. I will light a candle as evening falls ever earlier. I will glory in the leaves of red and gold and fiery orange that crunch beneath my feet as I walk the streets of my town for the last time in this season. 

It is possible to pause and revel in beauty and delight even amid an overflowing to-do list. I would argue that perhaps it's never more important to pause than when faced with an overflowing to-do list, actually. 

And so I will.