"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Sunday, May 13, 2012

There's No Magic To Running Far

There's good news and bad news.

The bad news (depending on your view of things) is that this will be my last post for the foreseeable future (though I always reserve the right to post on my own site whenever I want).

The good news is the reason why.

The last five months or so have been completely insane from a time management aspect. 

At the end of December my wife gave birth to our third child.

My responsibilities at work increased dramatically when we hired a new financial advisor at the end of January and then another in mid-April.

In February we went through the home buying process.

In March we completed the purchase of a home and, while my wife and kids went to visit Grandma in Arizona, I spent a few weeks painting, having carpet installed and moving from one house to another. On top of my normal activities.

Having moved in, the first week of April was been spent preparing our old house to put on the market. Scary proposition, let me tell you. But it needs to be done. 

All told, there hasn't been too much time left over to sit down and write much regarding running. Case in point, I started this post nearly a month ago. Frankly it's a miracle I've been able to continue to run three days a week.

But none of those reasons are why this is my last post.

The wall of my garage in my previous house was my space. It's where I displayed all of my race bibs, age group awards, medals and anything associated with the races I've run since this began in 2009. The marathons (and ultra) receive special status and are placed in frames with a picture from the particular race. Each bib has the date and my finishing time written on it. Of all the things I moved out of our old house over those few weeks, this wall was the very last thing to be done. Not because I couldn't have done it earlier, but because I just didn't want to do it. I was proud of that wall. I was proud of what it represented. Of the time, effort and commitment it took to earn each item.

But as the Realtor left on a Friday afternoon, intending to list the house on the market the following Monday, I knew the time had come to tear it down.

My long run the following morning was great. I knocked out 18 miles relatively pain and soreness free. It's the longest I'd run since the ultra back in October and it felt good. I felt like a distance runner again. With this run under my belt, I went over to the house, took one more look at my wall, and began to carefully remove each bib, frame and medal and place them in a box. For some reason I worked backwards, so I started with the 2011 Silver Falls Trail Half Marathon bib. And then next came the big one: the 50-mile frame with accompanying medal. 

50 freaking miles. I reflected on that for the first time in a while and it brought a smile to my face. I'm excited to do it again this year. Yes, excited.

I kept working backwards through time. 2011 St. George marathon2011 Pocatello marathon. The Foot Traffic Flat on the 4th of July. Seattle Rock 'n' Roll, where I set a new PR. NewportRed Rock Canyon. And that was just 2011

I worked my way back to my first marathon, Newport in 2010, and thought about what a miserable day that was and how it was the encouragement and enthusiasm of a good friend that got me through the final four miles that race without wanting to give up running forever the moment I finished. 

As I came to the final column of bibs, I took down my first half marathon. And my first 10k. And then my first 5k. Each of these were distances I wasn't sure I could do at the time I signed up for them. And then the 2.6 mini-marathon bib from 2009. The first race I had ever "trained" for. I thought back to the first day my little brother and I ran a mile on the track in preparation for the big day. It was awful. 

It was the final bib on the wall that made the biggest difference though. The 2008 mini-marathon bib. The day I thought I should be able to run 2.6 miles without any problem and without any training. I was horribly mistaken. 

With an empty wall in front of me I thought about where I had been, the places where running has taken me these last three years and the experiences and personal growth I've enjoyed.

And then I thought about this blog and knew instantly I was done with it. Though I will most certainly continue to run, the purpose of this blog has been accomplished and completed. When I sat down to write my first post in 2009, I had one thought in mind: I'm going to run a marathon. Underlying that finite goal though was something bigger: I was going to become a runner.

The purpose of this blog has been to explore that process. During my time here I have tried to examine the various aspects of becoming a runner though my own experiences. What would it take? What would I need to change about myself to accomplish it? What strategies, physical and mental, would benefit me the most? How would I change, if at all? How would people's perception of me and what I was trying to do be received? Would it change over time? What would be the biggest disappointments? The biggest triumphs? How would all of these things weave together to form a runner? How would I know when I got there? Would it be a certain number of miles? Finish a marathon? More than one marathon?

Though I haven't answered every one of these questions here in print, I have been able to in my own mind. 

Knowing I had become a runner didn't happen when I realized I could leave the house and run 15 or more miles anytime I wanted just for fun. It didn't happen when I qualified to become a Marathon Maniac or when I ran 50 miles in a day. It didn't happen when the diet I started because I wondered if it would help me became my diet because that's just what I ate day after day. It wasn't any one thing but instead was the sum of all of the experiences and thoughts I've had over the past three years that has changed the way I think of myself.

What started as "I wonder if I can run?" has passed through the stages of "I think I can run," "I hope I can run," "can I run?" "I can run" and has arrived at simply, "I run."

It has become who I am, a runner. I am a runner. 

As I took on more look at the empty wall in my garage, and then to the box full of hard-earned mementos it seemed fitting that now was the time to come to this conclusion. I'm entering a new phase of my life. New baby, new house, new goals. Shoot, I turn 30 in a month and half. But I enter this new phase with something that I wasn't born with or was given. I enter it with something earned. Something worked for. 

From the very first day there has been a quote from General George S. Patton at the top of this site:

"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired."

I love that. But even simpler is the following from Bear Grylls:

"There's no magic to running far or climbing Everest. Endurance is mental strength. It's all about heart." 

Thank you for reading. From those who have read from the very beginning to those who will find their way here in the future. I hope that what you have found has helped you in your own journey in some small way. 

If you're interested in continuing to follow where I'm running and what I'm doing, you can follow my progress over at the DailyMile website. It's going to be a busy few months. In June I have a half marathon and marathon. In July I'm doing an Olympic open water triathlon. And then in a period of 10 weeks from August through the first week of November I'll be competing in a 1/2 Ironman distance triathlon, two marathons (here and here), a 50 miler and a half marathon. A punishing schedule for sure. But I wouldn't have it any other way. After all, I am a runner.

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