Monday, February 9, 2015

Driving A Stick Shift

Have you ever tried to drive a stick shift? It’s a craft that is not practiced much these days, as automatic transmissions clutter new car lots across the nation. Well, at least here in the States. I’m sure it’s different around the globe where driving is still considered an art form, not merely a means of getting from point A to point B. Anyway, I personally do not know how to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission, I mean I guess I could figure it out if I were in a dire situation where that knowledge was needed, but I haven’t mastered the technique. Once, I had someone try to teach me, but I just couldn't get it. It’s not that he was a bad teacher– he was actually very patient – and considering we were using his vehicle, it could have turned ugly. The fact is, I was a bad student. I wasn't ready to learn what he wanted to teach. I just was not in the right mindset to learn the intricacies of driving a stick shift. Now, had I been in the right frame of mind, I bet I would have thoroughly enjoyed the lessons and the experience. Whenever you are going to do something outside of your comfort zone, you have to be both mentally and physically ready to accept the challenge and I just wasn't.

However, yesterday, I didn't just step outside of my comfort zone, I took a giant leap beyond it! With all the walking I do, I felt that it was time to push my limits and do a half-marathon. The longest distance I’d walked while “training” for this monumental goal was 9.5 miles. I was nervous going into the Sarasota Music Half Marathon since I hadn't actually walked 13.1 miles yet. Was I prepared for this mentally? Was I prepared for this physically? I wasn't sure. Not knowing what was in store for me, I anticipated finishing around 3 hours and 45 minutes or averaging about a 16 minute mile, and I would have been happy with that. As it turned out, I exceeded my own expectations! I finished in just under 3 hours with an average pace of about a 13.50 minute mile. I absolutely shocked myself! If I had not been in the right frame of mind and had not taken the right steps to be physically prepared, I probably would have given up just as I did when trying to learn how to drive a stick shift. Sometimes, your brain is even more prepared than your body even realizes. I fully intended on walking the majority of the race, after all, that’s what I do on my long Sunday walks. I had no idea that I would be so physically and mentally prepared for the challenge. Not only was I more than prepared, but I am determined that when I do it next year, I’ll do even more running! Now that I know what to expect, I will be able to do proper training. 

Taking on a challenge is all about timing. No matter what it is that you are looking to do, if your heart and your head aren't in it, my advice is to not begin. If you’re not properly prepared and you don’t see signs of success (or the only thing you think you see is failure), chances are, you will grow discouraged and quit. Being able to overcome the fear of the unknown and interpreting failure as merely an obstacle on the path to success, that’s when you know you are ready to take on the greater challenges. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, I know that. Life has setbacks, but it’s how we deal with those setbacks that allows us to achieve greater things than we could have ever imagined.

Don’t be the bad student with a good teacher, like I once was. Dig deep and find that higher gear that you never knew you had and achieve greatness. You are worth the effort it takes to be awesome!