Thursday, August 13, 2009

Parallel Lines

I have to ask you open up your mind a little bit here and give me a little bit of latitude with regards to your imagination. I was enjoying...yes, enjoying mowing my lawn yesterday and like a good homeowner, doing my best to get the lines just right and make it look....well, perfect. Just right equals parallel...and parallel being two lines of equal distance apart and not intersecting. With the hum of the John Deere drowning out all other sounds, my mind was given a break to drift off into some relaxed deep thoughts. Like nearly everything in my life, I can relate just about anything to running long distances. I don't know why, but "parallel lines" have been sticking in my head for the past 24 hours. Here's where I drifted:

Take one of those lines and call it your goal-setting line. All kinds of things can be along this line like professional goals, running goals, family goals, you name can be there. The other line is the path we trod. It's defined by each step we take, each decision we make, and every finish line we cross. As my two hundred mile finishes are drifting further and further away each day, I feel like I'm grabbing to hold on to the whole experience. It was so special that I want it fresh in my mind and I don't want to lose that "magic." To that end, people like my wife are subjected to "ultra-talk" day in and day out and those co-workers closest to me have to endure occasional conversation or comments about running or my "experience." It keeps it all fresh in my mind. I guess I'm fighting the parallel lines and trying to make them intersect more often. I also can't get out of my mind those who stood at Squire's Castle with me on August 1st at 5am and didn't share the pure joy of crossing the finish line. I wonder how they're doing, what their story is, and what their next step is. In a way, I'm thankful for my DNF (did not finish) in 2008 at Burning River. I know what it feels like to drop out. I also know what it's like to have an unbelievable hunger for revenge at the course that beat me. Would I have rather finished in 2008? Absolutely! But, much can be pulled from that experience that has led to a 2009 like none other in my running career. The best part? 2009 is only almost 2/3 complete. There's still another four months to go.

I suppose this post can be called the "anti-parallel line" post because life is not about being parallel but the exact opposite. We have to have two lines to navigate by but they should be anything but parallel. They should be varied and constantly intersecting. Sometimes, they'll get close but won't quite make it. However, the lines continue and new opportunities await and more chances to join the two. I can't help but think of the Buckeye Trail's blue blazes on tree bark. Zig-zagging lines that are all over the place and eventually touch each other somewhere along the vertical axis of the tree. It's the perfect illustration of our lives and the journeys we travel. I bet you'll never look at that blue blaze the same again!

As I've talked to people after the race and others just encountering hard times in different life situations, they're tempted to just chop the line short and quit...abandon all hope at any future success. If by chance you find yourself thinking this...don't. Pick a new goal and don't wait around. Don't feel sorry for yourself or wait for someone else to do it for you. You grab it by the horns and own it. Pick up and carry on and don't look back. Don't get locked into a "parallel line" way of thinking where goals stay a distant shout away and never creep closer. Live your life following your own blue blaze and never stop.


Anonymous said...

The BR100 was my first 100, and a DNF! But I don't let it get me down, we learn and come back better and stronger!!

Mike said...

I will be going out for another run now! Thanks Nick. Nice writing.

Mark Carroll said...

GREAT post! Just loved it!