the United States and beyond! travel blog

Before I left Chicago last month my sister, Candy, ran the Chicago marathon. She did amazing and afterwards we had a little celebration party at my (parents) apartment. We chilled out in the evening, slept well and woke up the next morning to watch the news. Unbenounced to us, while we were eating and sleeping and having fun, the final marathon runner was still running. He finished shortly before we awoke, something like 16 hours after the race started! He was a young man with severe muscular dystrophy and watching him cross the finish line brought a little tear to my eye. I don't know his story or his name but ive thought of his face quite a few times since then when I have felt defeated...

Early this morning at 2 am eleven other volunteers and myself were picked up to go hike the only active volcano in Bali, Mt Batur. We sleepily got in the car, stopped for coffee and pancakes and then headed to the base of the mountain. I didn't know quite how steep it was gonna be or else I may have reconsidered due to my recent illness. I got about two thirds of the way and my body was fine but my lungs were burning and my stomach was churning. Shortly thereafter I fell behind the group and vomitted off the side of the volcano. Disgusting, I know!

I sat down on the volcanic rocks and looked straight up where I was supossed to be heading and thought to myself "no way!" ... with a bunch of curse words thrown in too! I was gonna be last out of all my friends anyways, so my type - A self thought "what's the point?" Then I caught my breath a sipped some water and thought of that Chicago marathoner. I was maybe ten minutes, max, behind my friends; he was ten hours behind most of the runners. He had a physical disability that made his race excrutiating; I had a stomachache that really sucked. Thinking of all this I battled my way to the lower peak. There the view was amazing and I watched the sunrise in solitude... something ive missed with these cramped living conditions. The rest of the group went up to the volcano summit but I made it to a peak and I felt just as accomplished.

It was a great lesson for me. Coming in last doesn't always mean losing and who was I competing against anyway? In a family of really smart and perfect (well, Gill is perfect!) siblings it was always important to keep up with their grades, their boyfriends and the messes. But why? As I sat up there I wondered about how much I might have missed in the past because of my focus on being the best, or at least as great as the best. So I am gona be okay with not being first or best, or at least I'll try for now (old habits die hard) and maybe, just maybe, I'll see or learn something I would have otherwise missed.

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