The Integral Race Begins

Erin’s Blog – Running as a metaphor for life

In 2001 (or somewhere around there), I decided to start running. This, a decision from a gal who hadn’t run more than a mile at a time in her entire life, and those miles were only run in PE class. And I’m not sure it counted as running if it was like a 12 minute + mile in PE class. The gal who broke her wrist in seventh grade roller skating and as a result couldn’t play on the basketball team. Instead she was the water girl (and never bothered with trying out for basketball after that season). The cigarette-smoking gal who tried out for cheerleading in high school (again no sports in my history whatsoever aside from water girl) and didn’t make it. (That sucked). But I was gonna run. In 2001, with zero running experience, I was taking up running.

I was fortunate to work at a company that had a small gym inside the building at the time. So I started running at lunch. The first time, I ran a quarter mile. Holy crap was that hard! I was huffing and puffing and my chest hurt and my legs hurt. I thought “what the hell am I thinking?!” A few weeks later, I was running a half-mile, and then later an entire mile straight. WOOT! Then I ran a 10 minute mile. Eventually, many years later I ran a half-marathon.

That was really hard. But I didn’t die.

I haven’t gotten back on the running bandwagon post 2013 baby. It’s still in my heart though. But that’s for a different post. I’m not a competitive runner. The only competition in running for me is doing and being my best. Sometimes that is a long run in the rain, sometimes it’s beating my last time for a certain distance, and sometimes it’s actually getting my running gear on and starting. To me the race is a competition with myself.

That beginning was a lot like the start of the Integral Agile Wizardry Boot Camp. The first night, I had the pleasure of sitting with a few really heady, intelligent, and thoughtful men (whom I now love dearly) who were talking about how sailing and nautical maps can be a metaphor for agile. I kept looking around wondering what the hell I got myself into. I’m terrible at metaphors and don’t know a damn thing about sailing or nautical maps. I thought, “Fake it til you make it.” Well I couldn’t fake the sailing conversation, so I kept quiet. Inside I was huffing and puffing and my chest hurt and my legs hurt. I kept looking around feigning interest in the conversation, trying to make sense of what they were saying. I’m not sure when I decided to wander off, but that beginning sure scared the crap out of me. I thought, “what the hell am I thinking?!”

I was in a haze most of the week, shackled with fear, fatigue, pain, and fear. Did I mention I was petrified? Anyway, on what was I’m pretty sure the first day, one amazingly deep gentleman took the first step in being astonishingly and wonderfully vulnerable. He talked about wanting to be invisible. When he spoke with tears in his eyes and his voice cracking, the energy was palpable in the room. I didn’t know much about this guy, but I knew that if he felt that way, that he was faking it. Not faking the desire to be invisible, but putting himself out there despite the desire to NOT be out there. He said something about being found out a fraud. I thought “HOLY SHIT, that’s what I’m afraid of.” At least there was one person who got me. (Little did I know...)

When you’re running, sometimes you have snot running down your face along with tears and everything hurts. You want to just quit because “what the hell were you thinking?!” Integral Agile Wizardry Boot Camp felt a lot like that. But somewhere in the middle, you start to hit your stride. You realize that this is what you’re made to do. Integral Agile Boot Camp felt like that too. You become sort of addicted to it even though it hurts and it’s scary and you want to quit sometimes. At some point it just becomes a part of you and you can’t stop despite the pain and fear.

Sometime after that gentleman’s first soul-baring moment (maybe even in the same activity), I spilled my guts. I was really shaken up, and in my panic zone. I was huffing and puffing and my chest hurt and my legs hurt. I had tears coming out of my eyes and snot running down my face. I told everyone that I felt inadequate, and that my biggest fear for the week was to take from the group more than I had to give. Even writing that now brings me to tears. In that moment, I could feel everyone in the room reaching out, giving their hearts to me. Telling me that I was good enough to be there. That I was worthy and that I had something to give. It was only the beginning. And I didn't die

That one bit of vulnerability was the first of many inspiring moments during the week of Integral Agile Boot Camp that kept me pushing further, willing to run the ¼ mile and ultimately get to the 10 minute Integral mile. I’m still training for the Integral half-marathon and I’m still trying to do and be my best Integral self. It’s gut wrenchingly painful and beautiful and awesome just like running. I realize now that some days my best self will just be showing up and other days it will be being better than I was yesterday. This blog for me is a long run in the rain.

(Who said I can’t do metaphors?!)