Friday, April 6, 2012

You Must Believe

I read this yesterday on Facebook on “I Love to Run’s” daily inspirational posts. It’s called “I’m a Distance Runner”: ‘I’ve been trained to keep going even when it’s hard. When it hurts. When it sucks. When I don’t want to. I look past it. Relentless forward progress to the finish. Call it what you want: stubbornness, endurance, determination, guts. Deep down, I don’t know how to give up. (And it’s always worth it in the end.)’  I could give you a long story about how this passage directly parallels my life but I won’t. I think you can see how it would parallel many lives and perhaps even your own. In running, I hear all the time things like “You ran further on Sunday than I drive in a week” or “I can barely run 2 miles” or “I only run to the refrigerator” or the most common: “You’re crazy.” My reply?: “Yea, I get that a lot.” Here’s the deal if you are struggling with any physical issues with running now like injuries or energy. Or perhaps it’s simply the will to run and keep going. If you’re hurt, that’s one thing. If you’re simply tired, unmotivated, in a bad mood, etc., etc., etc….YOU NEED TO SNAP OUT OF YOUR FUNK!!!! Back in October 2009 on Columbus Day weekend, I toed the line of my third 100-mile trail race in Titusville, PA. It was my third 100-miler in 18 weeks and would eventually be my third finish. Around mile 20 that Saturday, my inner thigh hurt bad…so bad, that I couldn’t lift that leg to climb out of creek-beds that the trail went straight through.  I had to literally pick up my leg or step up with my right leg then drag up my left. Did I mention that was MILE TWENTY??? My elementary math tells me 100 miles – 20 miles = 80 miles to go. 80. I was in pain…real pain and it hurt more by the minute. I had read a LOT about ibuprofen and its limits during endurance events so I had a baseline of what I could take. Those little tablets were in my drop bags for such a scenario as this. I decided to keep going. My pace was dreadfully slow and I watched the hours tick by until I could take another 800mg of ibuprofen. The sun grew old, the sky was clear, and Mr. Moon would soon rise. I won’t repeat the entire race report (you can read it on the right sidebar of this blog) but eventually, the ibuprofen did nothing and at times, I had to walk backwards to mask the pain. Still, I would not quit. At Mile 92, my bride of now 19+ years surprised me as she stood in the middle of the path. The sun had risen on the second day of the event, I had been out there for 29 or so hours non-stop, and I lost it emotionally. I was doing everything I could do to mentally and physically keep it together. I WANTED TO FINISH SO BAD. I WOULD NOT QUIT. I fell into her arms and thanked her for making the drive into Pennsylvania to see me. We jogged a bit into the final aid station then I headed out on my last 7 miles, still in all kinds of pain. The math of pace vs. distance vs. reaching the 32 hour time limit haunted me. “Would I make it? Will I have gone all this way only to be disqualified because I ran out of time?” I continued on and finished in 30 hours, 49 minutes, 2 seconds. (Yes, I still remember the “seconds” of my finish time…one of those things you just don’t forget.)

I say all of this simply to say this: I’ve been there and done running AND in life. Whether it is in running or life, when you feel you just can’t do “it” anymore, you must make the decision that you CAN. Like I read recently, whether you say “I can!” or “I can’t,” you’re right. (read that again) In distance running, the mind can and will get in the way of your finish line…I promise you. You have to turn the negative into positive and get it done. Believe me when I tell you that our physical bodies are capable of amazing things. They can go the distance and can do so much more than you know. Your mind simply has to order it to do so. Sure, training has immense value but even with all the training there is out there, your mind is what will save you in the middle of the night on the trail when the crickets are sounding, the trees are creaking in the wind, and the moon shines up above. You must decide to finish. Remember, you CAN. Now believe it. 

Run Happy!!!

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