Friday, January 9, 2015

Thinking Big

One thing about me is that I have a very creative imagination, so I'm constantly thinking of new and interesting ideas of things that I could try or do. Some of them involve work stuff, sometimes I come up with an idea for a story I'd like to write or even just something I'd like to venture out an do. Eventually, most of them come and go, like a lot of thoughts do -- and there are only 24 hours in a day to accomplish things -- but often they are pretty large in stature.

Yes, I dream big. My only problem is while I dream big, I have trouble having the courage to bring things to fruition. I'm not all that fond of stepping away from myself and taking on a task that involves risk, though I admire the heck out of people who can do that.

Small things, sure. In the last couple of years I've tried a lot of new foods, I've gone to professional dance performances and musicals (and loved them) and maybe even worn some clothes that maybe I wouldn't have in the past. All of my small things have turned out great, kind of because I expected them to, I guess.

Bigger things, I'm not so eager to tackle. Those involve risk, and they involve failure. That's scary to me.

But then again, that desire for going after a big challenge seems closer than ever, mostly because I have different definitions to "success" and "failure". I used to be pretty black and white about that, especially in my running. If I ran a training run or race and it met my expectations (mostly in terms of time) it was a success...and if it didn't, then I failed that day. Needless to say, running didn't make me super happy.

Thankfully, that's changed for me over the last couple of years. One reason is that I have a good support system around me, and the other is that, well, I've grown up a bit. I remember a couple of years ago I was having this discussion with my friend, Wally, who didn't start running until 2004 but has had some amazing experiences, including finishing marathons on all seven continents.

Wally is a competitive guy and ran some pretty good marathons early on, but he told me that he's much more happier having fun with running, not worrying about time, and using it as a tool to meet people and have great experiences. I thought about what he said for a couple of days and realized that he was right.

It's about the journey, and if you complete the journey, therein lies the success.

Lately the idea of big things began popping back into my head because I was reading the Bill Rodgers book "Marathon Man", which is a great read and I might try to review for you this weekend. His passion for running just flows from the pages, and his desire to use running as a way to connect with the world around him resonated with me.

I got a lot out of his personal story too...after finishing running in college he dropped out of the scene, working second shift as an orderly at a hospital and doing a lot of partying with his friends. He went more than three years without running, but something sparked inside him and just a couple of years later he was one of the best in the world.

Here's a passage I liked (among many):

"Back in college, when I followed Amby along the trails around campus, I never imagined in my wildest dreams I would race marathons on five continents or that there would be a Bill Rodgers Running Center or that I would get invited to the White House . But that’s life. That’s the marathon. At first, it’s this unimaginable thing. Like climbing Everest. The journey is hard, and riddled with setbacks, but it can be conquered . The unimaginable becomes the imaginable. The impossible dream becomes just the dream. The important thing to remember is that the quest to win a marathon, or even to finish a marathon , starts where all great quests are born— within the heart. That’s where it started for me. 

The heart is always the true starting line."

I'm starting to realize that I want to have an "Everest"-type goal or dream. Fifteen years ago when I set out to run the marathon, the goal was that large. I don't think I've set another one like that in the time since.

I just feel like, when it comes to my running, that I need to do that again. So where do I go? I've given it a lot of thought over the last few days, and it comes down to one, simple goal.

I want to be fast.

Not just fast, but Boston Marathon fast. For the longest time, the Boston Marathon has been something I've said would be "nice" to do someday, but now it's something I feel like I have to do. Have you ever seen the movie Vision Quest? Yeah, it's kind of like that.

I feel like I have some running talent. After all, when I was a kid I blew people away in conditioning runs at school, and in gym class my freshman year, with no training at all, I came 100 meters away from running two miles in 12 minutes. People wanted me to run, but I didn't like it at the time, so I played golf.

But the thought has always been...what if I could get up to 50 or 60 miles per week in training, where could I go? I'm now ready to try it.

My goal is official: I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Don't get me wrong, I still want to be Faster Than Frank, and I hope to be in four months. This goal might take a while, and that is why it is so special.

Now, looking at me at I type this you might scoff a little. You aren't alone, I'm kind of doing the same...I weigh 245 pounds and have run six times in the last three weeks. Then again, when Bill Rodgers was partying and pushing dead people to the morgue in a hospital no one pegged him as an 18-time marathon winner either. But when the love came back, he started running miles, and days turned into weeks turned into months, and he was winning the Boston Marathon.

As he mentioned in his book, one of the things that stirred his contemporaries like Alberto Salazar and Greg Meyer on is because Bill was just a regular guy from New England, and if he could do it, so can they. And so can I

I just need to do this, and this is why I'm sharing it with you. This is going to take a while, and will be a lot of hard work, but I feel deep, deep down this is the next great quest of my life. Either that or it's a second mid-life crisis! :--)

I'm also sharing this in a forum like this because the people who read this get it. You all know why I want to do this and I will always appreciate the support I have always received from my running friends.

I'm gonna do it. You read it here first.

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