My word, how small is this world!
Remember Dave? The pace setter who got me to that finish line of Two Oceans Half Marathon on 2010? He read my blog! In addition to some awesome comments, he sent me this story which he wrote and which was published in 2008 in Runners World.
Not only did it touch me but I’m sure you will find it inspirational too…
I had a moment this week that explained everything to me. It’s funny how things happen –– suddenly, out on a training run, I find the answers to all my running questions. And all it took was a little hill and a bit of self-examination. Crazy stuff!
I found out last Thursday what it is all about, during a training run in the lovely Sani Hotel area on the KZN-Lesotho border, where I was staying ahead of the Sani Stagger Half Marathon I was due to run on Saturday. I headed out for my run to loosen the old legs up a bit and encountered a hill. Not a very tough hill, but one that pushed my heart-rate monitor up, and admittedly I slowed down to a walk, but when I reached the top I thought to myself, “Damn, Self, what are you doing?”
I immediately turned around, ran back down that hill, turned around and ran up it again. And when I got to the top without walking I felt like Rocky Balboa in the first Rocky film when he runs up the stairs of a monument and gets to the top, stops and jumps around with his arms in the air, celebrating like he’s just won the world title. OK, I didn’t quite jump around pumping my fists in the air, but I did shout “OH YEAH!”
It hit me then, that this is what it is about – your personal choices and goals, what you decide you want to achieve, and not what is expected of you. I just wanted to get up that hill without walking –– my time didn’t matter, and nobody else’s time mattered. It was just about me and my goal.
We place so many expectations on ourselves: Win this race, or our age category, or do a certain time on that race. Or beat this person, or the sub-whatever pacing bus, or just finish before the cut-off. Take this past weekend’s Sani Stagger, where I set myself a goal of beating my friend Sharon. Well, let’s not even go there –– because I ate her dust! But I sure talked a good race before the time!
I think sometimes we don’t realise the potential damage we do by professing our semi-wondrous abilities in running, because there are newbies (brand new runners) reading every word we write on running forums, or speaking to us at work, social functions, club runs and races. They then sometimes go out there with great expectations only to be sadly disappointed with the results.
For example, you read on the forum that this runner did such and such race in this time and it was a great race, but actually this guy is a double green Comrades runner (20 or more medals) who has a 4km time trial time of sub-16 minutes! The newbie arrives and tries to be like this runner, does the 4km in 36 minutes and never returns because he or she is totally embarrassed. I mean, how could they have done such a bad time? No ways can they hang out with these real runners.
But it’s not about what others can do or achieve regularly, seemingly so easily. If you’re a newbie runner, you are what you want to be, and you should not let others prescribe what you must do or achieve.
Similarly, we often get labelled according to our abilities and speed. I used to be a walker, and you know, things were quite simple then. You were a social walker or you were a race walker. But now what do I call myself? I am not a ‘‘runner,’’ in the grand scale of things, because I am not an ‘‘alien,’’ a person whose times are out of this world. But I am not ‘‘just a jogger,’’ either, so here I am stuck in this void between runner and jogger.
But now I realise that I don’t care what people call me, because I am a runner. I have my own goals and I will go after them in my own way, at my own speed, and on my terms. It doesn’t matter what others do, say or think, as long as I know I am doing my best.
For I am a runner.
(Dave’s blog: http://back2basicsqbh.wordpress.com/)