“Nobody knows what you are capable of”

My name is Megan Sayer. I am 40-something (the number doesn’t bother me, and actually it’s about to change anyway, but I’m not going to tell you here because I’ve learned that information like this can lead people to take out expensive iPhone contracts in your name and leave you with a multi-thousand dollar bill and a bad credit rating…but I digress). I’m a wife, mother of three school-aged children, part-time carer to an ageing mother, part-time worker, owner-operator of a fairly average-sized body, a dog, a cat, a car, and an extremely full life, all of which I love dearly. Constant writer. Occasional blogger. Active church member. Bi-weekly runner.

Okay so when I say I’m a runner, you’re going to have to let go of that image of the woman with the blonde ponytail and the little tank-top with endless legs that you see occasionally while you’re out and about. I see her too–she’s not me. I’m the red-faced sweaty one with a hanky in one hand because my nose runs constantly. And, when you see blonde-ponytail she’s probably running at an average speed of maybe 4.5, 5-minutes per kilometre, whereas I average around 6 to 6.5 minutes per kilometre, depending on the conditions. In practical terms, if blonde-ponytail is the Tour de France, I’m the local bike track.

And I don’t actually mind.

As I was getting ready this morning (marveling once again that I actually DO bother to get up at 5.30am twice a week, and thinking how grateful I was for my running buddies, without whom I would not be doing it, and without whose motivation I would have a significantly larger-than-average body) it occurred to me that this is a transition year for me. Partly because I’m 40-something (insert random concern about iPhone contracts here), and for many of us at this age it’s a slow grind. Bill payment-music practice-soccer games-work-oh I need to do what else-didn’t I have a dream once-no you can’t have Nutrigrain and a mandarin for dinner. It’s a season. Definitely a busy one. This year my husband has started studying alongside his work commitments, my mum has been diagnosed with alzheimers, and I’ve rearranged my work hours to accommodate their needs, with a huge shout-out of thanks to my boss for allowing me to be so flexible.

Transition happens. It’s kind of tiring, but I’m getting used to it already, and give me another six months and it’ll all feel quite normal. It might take a few years though before I feel a little less constantly-busy.

Anyway. I ran this morning, with my running buddies. I run with two amazing women, both called Sarah, who never cease to inspire me. One recently battled through all kinds of difficulties to complete a very successful half-marathon, and the other is in training for a half-marathon is a couple of months’ time. This morning they were talking about running a full marathon next year, and maximising their half-marathon training so they’d be in peak-shape for it.

Me? I’m not in training for anything in particular. I just tag along with them because I like running, and (I’m not sure who first came up with this wonderful line, but it’s oh-so true) because I like cake. I love running with the Sarahs because they inspire me, because I can run at their pace, and because they usually challenge me to run that little bit harder, that little bit faster, and without that I’d stagnate.

Maybe one day I’ll train for a half-marathon. Maybe one day, crazily enough, I’ll train for a full 42k marathon. I think about it sometimes, and I like the idea of doing it–maybe the Sarahs are getting into my brain a little too much–but definitely not this year, and possibly not the next. I’m happy pushing myself just that little bit more to keep up with them when they take off at a sprint.

Life feels madly-busy, and crazy-full, and sometimes it feels so very, stupidly small. Sometimes I almost want to give myself a pat on the back because my kids have packed lunches and are wearing clean socks to school (even if they’re not necessarily matching), and, praise the Lord, I can even see my kitchen benches. My goal for this past month was to paint my lounge room, and I’ve managed a whole three-quarters of this lofty goal, and I’m back to work tomorrow so it’s likely to stay that way a few more weeks. Months, even.

Sometimes I think about the dreams I had as a twenty-something wanna-be world-changer, or even just a few years ago when I was spilling my guts on the page and desperate to write words that impact people, as other people’s words had impacted me.

Now my dreams are clean socks, and cake, and not being caught out in identity-scamming and getting lugged with a bill for somebody else’s iPhone. What makes me happy is sunshine and hugs and being able to keep up with Sarah when she turns her music on and takes off at full-speed 5k into an early-morning 7k run.

We were doing our cool-down stretches this morning, the Sarahs and I, and talking about our speed (bike track, not Tour de France, but definitely improving), and blonde-ponytail runners whose cool-down slow-jogs are about the speed of our race-pace. I mused on whether people who become runners do so because they’re naturally fast, or whether they just commit themselves to much more intensive training than I do. One Sarah told us about a guy she knew who’d only been running a few years, but had just recorded some incredible time for his last half-marathon, whereas she herself has been slowly, incrementally, getting stronger, faster, better. Both these Sarahs are challenging themselves each week, and achieving new and greater things each time. I’m proud to tag along twice a week and manage to keep up. And the other Sarah said to me, “Meegs, no matter how fast we run, you always manage to keep up. Nobody knows what you’re capable of!”

I know she was talking about running, and my pushing myself to run with her when she’s running as hard as she can, but her words resonated with me so deeply. In that little cool-down, stretching out my leg-muscles, I actually felt the lid lift off my world again. I can do things! I can!

Life won’t always be constricted, and small. One day everyone will look after their own socks, drive themselves to music practices, pay their own bills. Much as I love the life I’m living, I’m so grateful that it will expand again, that there’ll be time to dream, and to pursue those dreams.

I came home from my early-morning run with Sarah’s words ricocheting round my brain. “Nobody knows what you’re capable of”. In those six words she challenged me, and made me want to find out. I put the dog’s leash on, grabbed my iPhone and put my ear-buds in, and went for another run, this time as fast as I could.

I didn’t break any land-speed or Olympic records. I’d certainly need a lot of training to get up to blonde-ponytail 4-minute kilometre speeds, but I ran fast, then jog-ran, then walk-jogged, with a big smile, and a bagged-up dog-turd in one hand, and a renewed sense of dreaming, of passion, of purpose. Nobody knows what I am capable of yet!

If you are like me, maybe 40-something, maybe with your own basket of help-yourself mismatched socks, cat, dog, car, average life, don’t worry. Life is not over yet, and your dreaming days are not behind you. Let me encourage you today, the way Sarah encouraged me: Don’t give up your dreams.

Nobody knows what you are capable of…