We have a Halloween book (which we read throughout the year) called Happy Halloween, Stinky Face. I find it a cute yet somewhat annoying tale. In it, the child, Stinky Face (to this day I’m not sure if it’s a boy or a girl), goes through hypothetical, worst-case trick-or-treating scenarios and presents them to mom. For example, “But Mama, but Mama, what if Reese’s butterfly costume turns her into a real butterfly and the big wings flap-flap her right up into the sky?” And “What if Lily Kate, who is a black cat, gets her long tail stuck in the door at one of the houses?” Or “What if my teeth get stuck in my caramel apple and I can’t get my face loose?”
You get the picture. This little one is obsessing over every detail, worried about things that won’t happen and, quite simply, kind of irritating.
Sounds like someone I know.
I am the grown-up version of Stinky Face.
Only it’s not Halloween. It’s the NYC Marathon.
It’s one month from today. As we finalize details and lay out some plans—as our marathon trip becomes reality— I am the annoying, irritating one. I’m the one going over hypothetical, worst-case scenarios in my head. “But what if every single seat on every single public transit system bus (and subway) is taken and I can’t get to the Staten Island Ferry and I miss the ferry and can’t make it to the starting line?” Or “What if I get on a subway, miss the transfer, and end up at Yankee Stadium instead of the start?” And “What if something happens with Daylight Saving Time and trips the alarm clock function in the cell phone, so it won’t go off, and I sleep through the Marathon?” Or “What if I end up trying to take a cab and every single driver ignores me, scowls at me and passes me by?” Finally “What if I am stuck in a throng of runners and when I attempt to pick up speed and pass some a spectator in Brooklyn curses me out?” And on and on. And on.
I know that a huge aspect of running the marathon is the mental piece. Just like I’ve trained physically, now it’s time to kick my mental training into high gear. These what-ifs are definitely not accomplishing that.
I realize that my perspective is off, my focus is blurred. With one month to go, I need to get back to the basics: trusting in the experience, letting go and simply letting things unfold as they may.
The mental fortitude I need is going to come through prayer.
When I read Happy Halloween, Stinky Face, I want to tell the child to relax, chill out, have fun and that everything is going to be OK. Because I know that’s the reality.
In real life, with one month to go, I need to do the same for myself.
So, Happy Marathon, Stinky Face.
Just trust. And let go.