More Important Than How You Play

Last night, with massive anticipation, I set my alarm for 4:30 AM. (I realize that might not be a very big deal for many folks, but for me – it’s a unique experience.) I’ve been training for a marathon and had plans to run an easy 18 mile run this morning. My plan was to start running at 5:15 and I wanted plenty of time to stretch, eat, drink and get merry.

Fast forward…

Eight miles into the run, I was flying. I mean for me. I felt good. I’ve run a bunch of 13-15 mile training runs in preparation for the marathon next month. I’ve overcome illness, injury and over training. I’ve run a few half-marathons. At no point in any of those runs did I feel as well as I did at the eight-mile mark.

Ouch…

My calve seized. Hard. It was as if Ironman (to stay current with K-Man’s interests) himself wrapped both of his hands around my calf and squeezed. It sucked. I was as far from my house as I could get. I didn’t have any money. I didn’t have my cell. It was 6:30 AM. (I should note that I do this on purpose to dissuade me from making calls to get out of the tough runs!) But, damnit, I was planning on an 18-mile adventure and I wasn’t about to let Ironman stop me. So, I started walking. And I walked. And walked. And walked. Instead of an easy three-hour run, I returned to my house four-and-a-half hours later. Thrilled.

Got me thinking about K-Man. As he gets older, I’m sure I’ll have to dump the ol’ “It’s not whether you win or lose, but blah, blah, blah.” As I’ve gotten older (like so many of us), I’ve had to let go of the notion that I can still run sub seven-minute miles. I’ve had to reevaluate my definition of success (particularly as it relates to my athletic “achievements”).

When my calf first seized, I was pissed. I was flying along and…done. Run over. I had a choice to make at that point – find a pay phone and make a collect call, turn back for a 15 or 16-mile round trip, or do what I set out to do and complete the 18 miles. I went with the latter. That was the goal. That was the plan for the day.

So, the lesson, I think isn’t “how I played,” but instead not quitting. And, more importantly, I discovered that the first step toward achieving a goal is really wanting it and KNOWING you can do it. Sure, the execution wasn’t what I had in mind, but I finished that 18-mile trek. And I’m better for it.

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