Picked up an old journal this week and discovered the following passage about my running:
March 29, 2009: ”Entering week 8 of my program. Hit my top miles at 7 this past Saturday. It was my best pace, best time, probably my best run yet. I haven’t figured out the perfect combination yet-what makes my runs good or bad, better or worse, still working on it. I do know that what carries me thru those last minutes is my mind-my heart-not my feet.”
So, nearly four years later, you would have thought I would have figured out the magic combination, right? Nope. Some days my runs are perfect. I hit paces below 10:00 minutes/mile, the wind seems to be at my back the whole time, I am hydrated and experience little pain and start to feel like a real athlete. On these days, all seems right with the world and I am pleased with myself. And then there are the other days, the runs that leave me feeling like I’ve never learned a damn thing about this sport. I pant at the snail 11:00 minutes/mile pace. My stomach revolts. I feel dehydrated 5 minutes in. I feel like the wind and the weather are conspiring against me. I stop to walk. I hit every red light in the neighborhood. My Ipod dies, my Garmin acts as if I live in some third world country where satellite signals are unreasonable expectations. I start to curse like a sailor. Well, let’s be honest, cursing like a sailor seems to happen naturally after I’m 5 or 6 miles in to any long run.
So, what have I figured out? There is no magic. Maybe there is magic for you-some algorithm that works every time. I haven’t found it and I’m pretty damn good at math. The only thing I’ve got going for me is a pure, relentless inability to give up. Have you every been asked that great interview question? You know, the one that goes “What would you describe as your worst personality trait?” I have. And here’s my answer: I am terrible at giving in. Now, this trait is a gift and a curse. I stay at jobs that destroy my soul for far too long. (Remember “Office Space?” I’ve worked at both Chotchkie’s and Initech.) I’ve stayed in relationships long after it was obvious that my partner may have been dropped on his head at birth. I’ve tried to please people who are determined to live a life of misery. But, the gift aspect of tunnel vision is that, sometimes, the light at the end of the tunnel is a great accomplishment, not a train. The tunnel vision is what gets me out the door for runs in less than ideal conditions. It’s what keeps me going when, after 10 agonizing minutes, I feel like turning back towards home. Relentlessness is my only magic.
I’ll leave you with one of my all-time favorite quotes. Let me know what you think of it. Happy running.
“Bear in mind, if you are going to amount to anything, that your success does not depend upon the brilliancy and the impetuosity with which you take hold, but upon the ever-lasting and sanctified bulldoggedness with which you hang on after you have taken hold.” -Dr. A.B. Meldrum