June 22, 2009

Don't Ignore the Journey

When I crossed the finish line at the London Marathon three years ago, I had not a clue what was in store for me. After my return, I remember sitting across the table from my friend Jeff Padilla, trying to explain how awesome that experience was. Then, in a moment of weakness, I remember raising my beer and exclaiming, let's do Western States! "Are you nuts" I recall hearing. "You've never run anything over a marathon!"

A few short months later Jeff and I were sitting on a plane headed for Sacramento to run the Helen Klein 50 miler to qualify for Western. We both qualified but didn't make the lottery. Months passed. Should I try again? Why not. Another 50 miler qualifier done, I sent my application, and well, you know the rest.

This has been a wild ride for me. Until then, I never dreamed about running a 100 miler. It seemed absurd, sort of self indulgent, to run that far let alone to train for something that far. But there are two things I've learned along the way.

First, training for a 100 miler is a team sport. There is simply no way one can do it--and I mean "do it" as in learn, prepare, train and then run it--totally on your own. I can't even say here how much I've relied on my wife, my kids, my parents, my friends and other runners to get through this. And I haven't even reached the finish line yet!

Second, to train for this kind of thing I don't think the end can justify the means. In other words, and this goes out to all you runners, if you can't find enjoyment in what you are doing, especially a sport or hobby like this, don't do it. Otherwise change how you do it so you will enjoy it. I've learned to enjoy and appreciate the little things along the way--a flock of geese flying over head, my pacer's endless stories, a tumble down the hill, the breathtaking fatigue that (sometimes) fades to a source of energy, the view from the top of a mountain peak. Would I be the same person if I hadn't pursued this? I don't know the answer to that, but I do know I wouldn't be feeling the nervous energy I'm feeling right now.

Keep it real runners!


Mel-2nd Chances said...

great post, and you're right, the journey is whatever the goal is (since I know I won't ever be doing an ultra), is incredible, and the things we learn to rely on and appreciate are amazing :)

704Studio said...

I have been following your journey for over a year now, when the race was canceled due to fire/smoke. I remember what a let down it was for you, but I can imagine how that long wait has made the impending race all the more sweeter. Your hunger for this challenge must be ravaging, and that is going to help you along the way, as you eat up all those delicious miles.

Good luck, may the running Gods clear a path for you, and leave it all on the course - can't wait to read your race report!