The Vertex of Your Race {The Grove: Get Set}

Last week I shared how I have removed “run a marathon” as a goal from my life list. Thinking about my life list and twists and turns life has taken, a door in my memory was opened. I’ve recalled other goals and reflected on how they turned out. When I went off to college as an idealistic freshman, my plan was to become a high school Russian language teacher. My plan was a good one, until I actually took my first Russian class.

In hindsight, I was the only freshman in a class of predominantly older students (most were doing dissertations in Russian fields) and one of my classmates was from Ukraine. Guess what?! She spoke Russian! She needed to learn to read and write it. What in the world? At that point I didn’t know how I learned best and found myself floundering in what I thought was my professional calling.

Earn enough hours of C’s (for someone who normally did better than that) and even a strong interest may come into question. I remember having a chat with myself along the lines of “Okay, self, so you’re not so hot at learning Russian, what are you good at? Math. Well, then, minor in math. You can always get a job teaching math.”

Low on the math totem pole in my first job in a junior high school, I was assigned to teach 7th graders. It turned out 7th grade is key year in math education (at least in the US) because it is the year students start to see themselves as either a “math person” or “bad at math.”

This drove me nuts!!!

I’d tell a room of 7th graders, “I have no idea what you are going to do with your life, but age 13 is far too young to shut doors to thousands of careers just because you had an uninspiring math teacher! I don’t care if you ever use this information in the future, what I care about is that you have the option to choose for yourself whether you want a ‘mathy’ career or not. And by the way, math is about noticing patterns, we all need that skill!”

I’d calm down, stop waving my arms, and we had a blast.

All of this to say, while I might be out of my element when it comes to talking with authority on “running the race set before you,” due to the new directions life can take, I am in familiar territory when it comes to today’s metaphor in “Get ready, Get set, Go!”

If get ready, get set, go is an angle, one leg is get ready, the other is go, with get set being the vertex. It is the point when everything you have been doing to get ready ends, a corner is turned, and off you go in another direction.

The vertex is important because without it, you just have a line. When it comes to running the race set before you, getting ready can take months, even years. Going can also involves years, but get set can be but a moment, so it is easy to overlook. Race day finally comes and as the time for the race draws near, you move up to start line and this is the moment to:

  1. Let go of what has not been done. Let it go. Maybe you meant to get one more meal with your friend. Maybe you didn’t get all of the information ready for tax season. Maybe you need to finalize details for a house sale. Maybe you meant to write a letter to your grandma. At this moment in time, put it out of your mind. You can think about those details later. Right now, you need to focus on the next few hours, the next few days, maybe even the next few weeks. You are at the vertex, don’t look back, don’t look forward. Focus on this moment.
  1. Pay attention to your mental messages. Are you speaking kindly to yourself? What is the automatic message that is playing in your mind? For high end athletes, they invest time before the race preparing for the race mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. They prepare for what they will say to themselves and it is not, “Wow, you are going to lose!” No, they have intentionally practiced saying, “You’ve got this. It’s your time. Just do what you’ve been doing.” Why do you think one of Satan’s nicknames is “The Accuser?” He loves to accuse. When you get set for the race God has set before you, pay attention to whose Voice you are listening to. It should be laced in truth and soaked in love.
  1. Don’t over think. When you step up to the start line of your race, breathe. That’s it. Breathe. Your breath could be a prayer, it could just be slowing down your heart rate. Use this moment to reset, to re-root you in your story. Don’t let your mind race ahead of you. Stay present.

Get set is but a short window of time, so often it is jumped over.

But for now . . . Let go of what has not been done. Pay attention to your mental messages. Don’t overthink.

Which of these three do you need right now, in this moment?

This is The Grove. It’s where we gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art.  So join us in the comments. Link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt.  Click here for details and instructions

1 Comment

  1. Hadassah August 9, 2016

    From one math teacher to another, this was awesome!!! Thank you for making the connection so memorable. I also really appreciate your advice. After seven weeks of home leave in the States, I’m preparing to return to the field today, and I have been trying very hard to focus on the moment especially, but also to be kind to myself in my self-talk, and not to overthink things in this vertex of transition. I can’t wait to see what you have to say about Go!

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