Every day of your life people tell you what you can and can’t do. Parents, spouses, children, doctors, teachers, and bosses all exist to tell you what is possible and what is not. Most of us view our lives rolling ahead on fixed rails like a train. One rail is possibility, the other is limitations.
I have tended to view both rails as being flexible, rather than two parallel lines running out into infinity. These lines sometimes draw farther apart, and other times may even cross. You may have to go up on one set of wheels to stay alive or unharmed, but it is doable. Some of us are better at viewing both our possibilities and our limitations realistically. While others use perceived limitations to stop themselves from taking on risk.
I certainly ran smack into my limitations from time to time. I take beatings breaking out through the surf, or sometimes I can’t even get off of a beach because of 35 knots of wind. In the last three years it happened quite a few times, where I sprinted for a frisbee against a college kid, dove because I was too slow, and then wound up getting hurt. (cracked ribs, torn tendons etc).
One of my goals in life is to demonstrate to people the flexibility of both possibilities and limitations. When you begin to view events as possibilities where your limitations will be tested, you expect to fail occasionally, but will more than likely succeed where you can visualize your path to success.
My distance running has been on again, off again for the last few years due to injuries. It all started with my Chicago marathon in 2003 where I had my best race ever with a 3:40 minute marathon. I soon began having problems with my IT band, then my back, then a whole summer of ultimate frisbee collisions.
I have been told by co-workers, friends, doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors and others that I am not meant to run long distances. My wife Laura has always been behind me and my running. She is often waiting at home until 7:30 at night to start dinner, or waiting on weekends for me to run before leaving for family events. I set out this winter after my latest injury (calf muscle pull) to build slowly to being able to do a half marathon again, a race distance I hadn’t run since 2006.
I started my training in earnest this January. I viewed my training as flexible. No distance was bad distance. I just needed to be consistent about days, and not worry about time. I often wouldn’t look at my watch during my training runs. I would head out to run and take the pace that felt right. As I neared closer to the race I began to add a long run on the weekend that was 7 miles or more, peaking at 11 miles. Coincidentally never take a short legged beagle on an 11 mile run you might kill him.
I thought I was going to run with my brother Kris, but as it turns out he had a Basketball tournament for my niece Hannah.
I went out to the race with the thought that I would finish in under 2 hours, I ran the Borgess Half in 2002 and finished in 1:53 minutes. This year, I had a great race running 8 minute miles finishing in 1:51. I was pretty happy with the result. I would love to shave off another 5 minutes. But I am totally happy with the time considering how much time I had to train. I certainly don’t think that I am a world champion, but I do believe that if I had listened to all the advice I’ve heard over the last few years, I would never have even trained for the race and would have gone on to swimming or something. But the swelling sense of achievement I felt sprinting for the finish line was as palpable as that feeling the tail of my surf kayak lifting in ocean swell to head down wave.
As I hit the finish line I felt the sparks go off as my wheels hit the crossing of the rails possibility and limitations. I had stretched both to achieve the goal despite the world trying to bend the rail of limitations in on me.
My limitations may catch up to me later this year for pushing the limit of what my body can realistically do, but I am happy to have accomplished the goal without injury.