Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cracks in the Road

   Another year is winding down and soon the snow and freezing temperatures will have a tight grip on this part of Ohio. November is the month where I like to take a step back and reflect on what has taken place in my life throughout the year. I have become a firm believer that taking a personal inventory gives me a better perspective and appreciation for the people, events and actions that have filled this years calendar.

    For the past four months I have felt like my life has been in a rut. That state of mind where you wake up in the morning and just go through the motions. A growing emotion of frustration as if you are at the Doctor's office waiting for your appointment but never being called. Carrying this bag of emotions as if it were a delicate vase afraid to do anything with it because I didn't want it to break.

   The days and weeks following the Columbus Marathon magnified these feelings as if they were under a high powered microscope. Heading into this race I was feeling confident and strong. I was coming off of a personal best marathon three weeks prior and I expected to break through my glass ceiling in Columbus to get one step closer to Boston. Months of training, eating right and getting up early for those long Sunday runs all exploded shortly after mile 14 of the race when a pop in my hip stopped me in my tracks.

   Quitting isn't in my DNA and although I've failed many times in my life I can honestly say I've never quit. This pain in my hip almost forced me to walk off the course, almost. I hobbled along thinking that I'll get to mile 17 and run through The Ohio State Buckeye stadium,  (one of the reasons I chose this race, GO BUCKS !!) and then pull out. Then that little voice in my head started to call me names most to vulgar to describe. Whispering in my ear to suck it up and just when I needed it the most there was someone holding a sign that read "Pain is only temporary". I pushed on and hobbled to my worst finish of the year. This marathon broke me down physically and mentally and although some would say a 3:48 is a great time for me I felt like it was my biggest failure.

  Attempting to cope with this and put it behind me was harder than training. I kept telling myself and others I was OK with it and I've moved on but that wasn't the case. Holding on to something or someone never has a good outcome but this was a piece of the puzzle that I was determined to solve. So the weeks passed by with a steady pace allowing me to find a way to accept this along with other failures mounted throughout the year.

   Doctor's orders were take two weeks off so I took one and then slowly began to log miles again. Running is where I sort out my problems. Where I'm able to have absolute clarity so two weeks seemed a little extreme at least for my mental well being. Then while out on a slow run I took a deep breath and with that exhale a weight was lifted. Even though the long shadows of a mid November afternoon were reaching far across the landscape it felt as if the sun were rising for the second time that day and in that light the cracks in the road were highlighted.

  Staring at the road on that steady slow run I kept gazing into the cracks on the surface. One by one along that eight mile jaunt they hypnotized me and when I was finished everything that had been on my mind seemed to be gone. Those cracks in the road were telling me to let go of everything. Those imperfections that make me who I am also make me strong, flexible and forgiving. Cracks in the road that quite possibly no one else will notice. Cracks in my heart and soul that have made me the man I am today and will shape who I will become tomorrow.

   Running for me is experiencing life wide open. It provides a much needed peace for my soul and a love for my heart that is difficult to put into words. Over the next mile of my life I'm sure there will be happiness, sadness, love and heartache. All that are cracks in my road but more importantly make for a beautiful place to run.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I Think of You...

   Sunday is my favorite day of the week. Being that I'm a creature of habit I tend to wake up before the sun. The world is still spinning but most of the time life seems to be standing still. Sunday is the one day of the week where I generally get in my long run, even if I'm not training for anything specific. The peace I get being out on the road before the world opens their eyes has a very calming effect on me and resets my restless mind for the upcoming week.

   As any runner would tell you there are a plethora of ideas and thoughts that cross our minds when we are pounding the pavement or running the trails. I tend to use the road as much needed time with my best friend and this past Sunday we decided to shared some memories. Memories that made me smile and a few that caused a tear or two.

   Mile 2 of a 13 mile run I was focused and could feel my body starting to get loose finally hitting a nice pace. Concentrating on my form, breathing and pace as I usually do during training. Suddenly my mind wandered completely off the reservation and all because of one song that popped up on my iPod. Colder Weather by the Zac Brown Band.

   This song will always be linked to the loss of my boxer Sammy, not because of the words or the story it tells but because it was the song playing on the way home from the vet that sad day I said goodbye. So with that in mind it probably goes without saying that when the tune hit my ears more than a few tears were shed as I remembered all of the crazy, happy years we spent together.

   As the tears dried up I thought about all of the funny times we shared and those memories brought a smile to my face. I know she's in a better place and that eases the ache in my heart. My mind drifted to the people that have come and gone in my life over the past several years. My memories of the people that have touched or inspired me and the friends that made me realize that life could be worse. The remainder of the run I thought about each of them and where they are in life. I thought about why our friendships faded. I second guessed myself for not telling them how much they meant to me and how they touched my life.

   I often question myself when I'm on a run. The questions can be very simple to life altering decisions. On this day I questioned why in certain cases I didn't fight to keep those incredible people in my life and just as a cloud passes over the sun I realized that this is the way things are suppose to be. Sometimes you can fight too hard and push someone away, sometimes not hard enough and that someone will pass through your life like a summer breeze. On that run I accepted that everyone is on their own road. Running at their own pace sometimes joining you for a mile or two until their path takes them in a different direction. I guess hearing that song made me realize that I need to work on showing my appreciation for friends while we're still running together. Maybe our paths will cross again where I can show my appreciation. I'll keep hoping that if or when they do I'm able to express to them the same love and happiness that I shared with my old boxer Sammy. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Moving Forward

      After an extended hiatus I finally decided to sit down and organize my thoughts. The thoughts that have been consuming my energy on so many of my long runs. Cluttering my mind like a busy white board at the end of a seminar. Quite honestly the need to do this was long overdue. As Summer comes to a close the feeling of starting a new season with a new state of mind is a much welcomed idea.

   This morning tossing and turning in bed I decided to get up and go for a run. Just a short 10 miler knowing I have another 15 to run this evening. It's amazing how you can see the world, your world if you take a moment and enjoy it from a different perspective or in my case gazing at it in a different light. I'm on a route that I've run so many times before. I came upon a part of the road that looked different. For some reason I never noticed that this particular stretch of road was a hill. Could have been the lighting or lack there of that highlighted this but in that moment all of the crazy thoughts that have been littering my mind started to fall into place.

   The last Marathon I ran was back in June. Three weeks prior to this race my confidence was at an all time high. I was coming off of a strong 20 mile training run on the course and I had done all of the hard sometimes grueling work that a runner does to get ready for the Marathon distance. My goals were right there on the horizon waiting for me to grab and then came my taper. I have never been loyal to the taper and because of that I decided to log some extra miles. Before I knew it I crossed over the line and my hamstrings said they had enough. Over trained and very tight on race day I still had high hopes of hitting my goal.

   Cruising along just dealing with the tight legs something else decided to smack me across the face. At mile 18 on that hot, early summer day a severe dehydration began to set in. I never planned on this being an issue. There were moments over the last 8.2 miles when I didn't think I was going to finish. There were times when I didn't know where I was and my head was so dizzy I wanted to pass out. This was the first race my family and friends attended so with them giving up their time and not understanding the thrill running gives me I continued to fight and move forward to get to the finish.

    This race has been a mirror for the path of my life over the past several months and has taught me more about living than probably any race I've run. I won't bore you with the details but just like this course my life has been hill after long hill. Climbing one and celebrating the accomplishment to letting my pace open up enjoying the ride on the down slope only to look up and see another challenge staring back at me. Over and over climbing one hill after another with the finish no where in sight.

   Out on the road this morning I realized that everything in our lives can relate to a Marathon. You can do too much and have that impact what you are striving for. You can do everything right and still be derailed by the unexpected and you can love something or someone too much where you ignore what's right for your own health and well being. I now understand that letting go of something you love in order to heal only makes the heart and body stronger. At 38 years old I know I'm not where I want to be in this life but I have had a taste of what makes me happy and if I need to start over in order to keep moving forward then I accept that this is my road. I believe that if I keep moving then I will cross that finish line and that happiness will last an eternity.