Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Voices

"I am too old, I am too fat, I will never finish, I am too slow, I have no business being out here, I will never meet anyone, I am not worth it, I will never find achieve anything..."

Over and over in my mind today during my 10km race I kept hearing these same voices. They didn't stop me, or slow me down. For once I encouraged the self-doubt, just so I could run it into the ground. At first I hoped the the Ipod would drown them out, but soon the the voices got louder, and each time they did I sped up.

I am by no means a champion and I more than likely will not be winning my age group anytime soon but I am proud of the fact that I can wake up, put on my shoes and run 5, 10, 20kms. I am proud that I get better with age, that the more work I put into my running the better I get. I know that around the corner is the me that I strive for. I just have to keep outrunning those voices.

I was 360+ pounds a few years back, and I am not ready to call myself a speedo model yet (no one needs to see that), but I know deep down that I would rather have a body in shape than worry about the shape of my body.

It was a great run through 5km, on pace for my sub-50 minute 10km, than it got harder. I could feel the the lactic build up in my legs, I noticed the slight inclines, it got harder to breathe, and harder to drown out the doubt. At 7km, the Ipod was just not going to work anymore so I took it off and decided to face the doubts head on. It are these moments that I think of Dr. Sasha, who would never let me settle or get complacent in just being happy to achieve a goal. You have to think ahead to the next goal, the next kilometer, the next step, the next second. It allowed me to get back to basics, concentrate on my breathing and just run. I find that in any 5km, 10km, 1/2 marathon or full marathon that you come to a realization of what your limits are. You realize that you have taken out of your body all the capital the was built up during training and you have to decide if you are going to push your limits or not. Today, I was smiling and sprinting at the finish.

I am not Kenyan. I am not a natural runner. I wasn't born with speed. But I do have determination. Regardless of whatever speed you run at, or whatever your goals take some time to be proud of the journey and celebrate one more finish line. Personal best or not.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The first of many finish lines

The great thing about running is that it helps me put life into perspective, to center me. It allows me to be a hero or legend, or to face up to my inadequacies. It allows me to be alone and to slip into my own mind. On my run, I am searching for the meaning within my experiences. In that hour (or so) devoid of distraction, when the world is on hold, I can focus on the troubles and joys of becoming myself and arrive at some sort of peace. I am the closest I will ever come to who I am, and to what I believe.

I still run in groups, I enjoy the reverie and camaraderie that comes from a number of strangers getting together as a group to help achieve personal goals. However much I love the group aspect I truly crave the training and the solitude of racing. I look forward to the hours spent on the road. There I will find contemplation. To discovering how easy it is to escape from the body into a total encounter with my thoughts - thoughts I rarely have, consciously or otherwise. Those training runs become my hours for exploring the meaning of my past, and where I am going. The time to contemplate allows me to come to terms with the year I have had. Loss and love and loss and love again, going to the brink yet being back for yet another second chance. To think of the people I have hurt and to who I have made smile. To appreciating my failures and successes equally - and the life experience they have given me.

Some people see a near middle aged guy running along the back roads, some might find it foolish, some might wish they can do it. For me it is where I find the essence of my being. Where I find my limits and try to push through them. It is where I can learn that I can overcome any obstacle and survive - just from the act of putting one foot in front of the other and willing my body to stay in a state of motion. It is that simple and that complicated.

I look forward to the agony and ecstasy of racing. I have never had an experience that can encompass as many feelings as I do when I am running a full or half-marathon. It has taught me to not only enjoy the finish line but finishing runs and to celebrate the work it took to get there as well. To enjoy the pain, the doubt, the happiness, the fear and to use it fuel and to propel me over the many remaining finish lines I will be facing in the future.