Friday, April 17, 2015

A Path That Was Never There

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
As I approach my 3rd Boston Marathon, (which should be my 4th Boston Marathon, but such is life), I pause to think about how I got here. These annual events in my life often bring out introspective tendencies and possibly a bit too much soul searching. A fellow Boston 2 Big Sur runner posted about his journey to Boston, his first, begun in 2008 - and that got me thinking about these past 5 years and what caused me to take a direction I had not taken for many years and where it has led, and how in the grand scheme of things, this has been a bit of a whirlwind journey.

Last week I was hit with a pretty ferocious upper respiratory infection - which moved into my lungs this past Saturday and now is just parked there, hanging out. But, as my groggily lungs and plugged ears keep reminding me: We all need to take things as they come. There are things we can and cannot control. So instead of getting upset about all of this (Okay. I am upset about this!) I'm going to focus on how and why I got to this place - in a big picture sense.

My Marathon (and longer) Timeline:

Maine Marathon PR, 3:41:20  1993

Boulder Marathon PW,  2009
Colorado Marathon, 2010
Colorado Marathon (BQ) 2011
Boston Marathon, 2012
Brookings Marathon, 2012
Colfax Marathon, 2012
Fox Valley, 2012 BQ
Tucson, 2012  BQ
Colfax, 2013
Estes Park, 2013
(Great Cranberry Island 50k), 2013
Chicago, 2013  BQ
New Your City, 2013  BQ
Boston, 2014  BQ
Colfax, 2014   BQ
St. George, 2014  BQ
(Des Plaines 50 miler), 2014
Philadelphia, 2014  BQ

What's interesting to me is what happened following Boston 2012. It's not just a coincidence that my running focus shifted. Sometimes turning points happen and we may not even notice them, except in retrospect - or if we do notice them, the picture only becomes clear as more pieces to the puzzle are created and put in place.

Back in April 2012, sitting in Boston, hearing the weather forecast climbing ever higher by the day, by the hour, warnings issued, deferments offered, I was feeling completely ripped off. I had trained through a hard winter, a serious concussion and a case of the flu that had me crawling on the floor for several days - AND for this??? The unfairness of it just made me angry. But I did it. It was not pretty, but I did it.

 The finish line looking like holy-hell!

But I was left with a nagging thought: Was THAT my Boston? 

I really had no thought of running Boston again - that is until it sucked. And then I was determined to come back. I didn't want to leave things like that. But, that 90 degree heat left me with one of my worst times. I didn't BQ in Boston.  And so 4 weeks later I ran the Brookings Marathon on the theory that I really only jogged Boston - but the truth was that that hot and bothered effort in Boston had drained me more than I knew. Again I missed the BQ, by 4 minutes. This was suddenly becoming an issue.

And so I reevaluated things and set to work, plan in hand and mind and heart, and qualified, by a measly 6 seconds, that fall at the Fox Valley Marathon 2012 - dealing with heat and foot issues.

And from there things changed...And I keep coming back.

And so what I find interesting is how a bad experience revealed aims I had not even thought about. I didn't really choose a different path, but rather I just sort of marched off into a field of possibility. I wasn't really sure where I was going. Had that first Boston been a perfect experience I may have been done with it then. Experiences are experiences - good, bad, indifferent - they bring us to a place we would not be without them and if we open our eyes and see, that may make all the difference in the world. So while I wrote this on April 14th, 2012...
"I must admit, I am depressed, disheartened, disheveled...I can't think clearly any longer. And yet it seems in bad taste to whine. It seems that I should just be thankful I'm here, 'running' the Boston Marathon, but I'm not. I want to go home and pretend this didn't happen.
I keep thinking back to last year's race, with cold temps and a steady tailwind, and I want to scream to the heavens "NOT FAIR!!!"."
...As it turns out, I am now very thankful for that experience. What grew out of that matters to me. We can rail against unfortunate circumstances, but that does nothing for us. We can blame injury, illness, the weather, our genetics, our financial limitations, our commitments - the list is endless. And I do it all the time. But ultimately all we can do is do what we can do with what we have. What other choice is there? 

So, I'm sick. So be it. There's nothing I can do about that. And yes, this IS just running, and this is just a cold - not a life threatening illness. But even little setbacks can alter our courses, not just the big things, if something happens that matters, that resonates with you. Tomorrow I head to Boston again to continue this journey, marching farther off into this field of possibility and continuing on. Where it will lead, where I will choose to go, I know not.
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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