Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Journey of a Thousand Miles...

...begins with a single step.
~Lao-Tsu, Chinese Philosopher

My first step this year was on January 4th. It wasn't my hardest run or even my longest run.


Without the first step out the door in January, none of the other ones would have been possible. The cold runs, the hot runs, the recovery runs, the slow runs, the fast runs, the tempo runs, the track runs, the actual runs (runner humor)... None of it would have been possible without the first step.

Today I hit a milestone for the first time in my running life. I hit the 1000 mile mark in a single calendar year. I realize that today is not possible without all of the other days that I didn't want to get up, and get out the door.
But today's post isn't about me.Today's post is about YOU.

Yes YOU.

I speak to a lot of people who marvel at running 26.2 miles...the sheer audacity of the task. They say things like "Oh I could never do that." or "Why would you do that?" or (my personal favorite) "The only reason I'd ever run is if something was chasing me."

Allow me to answer those if I may.

To the "I could never do that" crowd. The moment that you tell yourself that you could NEVER do something you have assured yourself that you never will. You have placed upon yourself chains that will hold you down forever. Our words and thoughts have power over us. Much more so than our muscles do. When you free your mind to do amazing things, you can achieve them. Yes YOU. Practice this, not just in a physical endeavor, but in your work life, and in your family. Change the way you think and speak and eliminate the mental chains that are on you.

To the "Why would you want to run a marathon" crowd. In the immortal words of John F. Kennedy...(we run marathons)

...not because they are easy, but because they are hard..

There is nothing innately special about running an arbitrary distance. Nothing. Had Phidippides only run 10 miles from Marathon to Athens then collapsed and died, maybe we'd all be running 10 milers. Sometimes I wish he'd only run 10 miles. But what is so special about running any race in general is you are 1) Pushing yourself toward a goal 2) Improving your health 3) Boosting your confidence in every aspect of life. Running for the elites is about being physically stronger, fitter, faster. Running for everyman is less about the physical, and more about the mental and emotional. The combined efforts of every workout, every early morning wash over you like the tides as you cross that finish line, and you are overcome with a feeling that you rarely find anywhere else. Its a hurt, but the best hurt you'll ever feel.*

*from a guy who has never gone through childbirth

Lastly to the "I don't run anywhere unless something is chasing me" crowd. This is written to my former self. If you see yourself here...good. Do something about it. If not, just indulge me...

" don't look fat. You're tall and you can carry a few extra pounds. You eat garbage, and it is catching up with you. You weigh more than you ever have, and if you don't do something you're going to be on maintenance medicines like Lipitor and Blood Pressure medicine the rest of your life. You are letting your body waste away. Wake up and do something. No you can't run a mile without passing out. But just go and try. Try to walk. Do something. Even if you don't want to do it for yourself do it for the people who love you. The first step is the hardest. Stop masking your insecurity with humor. You will uncover relationships and connections with the runner community like you never thought possible. Just take ONE step out the door. It is the hardest one. Just one. See where it takes you..."
In my case, its now taken me 1000 miles in 9.5 months. I NEVER thought I could do it, but I'm sitting here as living proof to all of you...that if you just take the first step out the door....Oh the places you'll go!

Just take one step. Today.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

21 more sleeps...

...til the 36th marine Corps Marathon.

It was February 23rd, and I sat eagerly by my computer, clicking refresh every minute to see when MCM registration would open. I was nursing an IT Band injury at the time, and knew I had to build a base (again) before I started preparing for the marathon. My initial goal was to build 20-25 miles per week consistently before I started my marathon plan. Which by the way, I had no clue which plan I was going to approach.

Since then I've found out about a guy named Pete Pfitzinger, and learned how he hates my legs so much that he wants them to fall off every week.

Since February, I have run 860 miles, some good days, some bad days. Some missed workouts, some new PR's. All in all, I'm feeling as fit and strong as I have since I began running over 2 years ago. It all culminated with my biggest training run yet :25 miles. Pfitz doesn't ask you to run 25...but I promised myself in the last 10K of the Thunder Road Marathon, that I would not run less than 25 on my next marathon.

One of my goals at the beginning of the year was to run 1000 miles this year. Barring a tough week, I should hit 1000 miles after my run on Saturday. Last year I hit 942 miles, so I'm very excited to have the opportunity to hit this milestone this week.

All of it, every single mile, culminating three weeks from now in Washington DC. One of my running friends on Twitter likened waiting on a marathon to waiting on Christmas as an 8 year old kid. Its a perfect analogy. Watching the Ironman World Championships on Saturday, then the Chicago Marathon on Sunday only got me more fired up to run. When they sang the National Anthem at Chicago, I was ready to run through a wall!

Unfortunately today wasn't all motivation and excitement about Chicago. This afternoon I heard about someone who collapsed just shy of the finish line and later died. The runner was a 35 year old firefighter who had run at least one other marathon before (from what I can tell on Athlinks). It's one of those things that is a sobering thought...we fret about paces and nutrition and what to wear...yet here's a guy who was raising money for kids who have been burned in fires...a guy who went to work every day to serve people as a firefighter...and he just suddenly collapses. A perfectly healthy guy...could have been any of us. Just a terrible tragedy and a loss for the running community.

Things like this help to see the big picture and will help to keep things in perspective during the upcoming taper. I just hope that something good will come of his passing, and others will be inspired by his service and willingness to give back to those less fortunate. I pray that God's grace and comfort will be with the family in trying to make sense of this tragedy.