Sunday, January 1, 2012

30 Years Running

I stopped making New Year’s Resolutions years ago.  I came to a realization at some point that these New Year vows were just too black and white, with only two options.  Either you kept them or you broke them.  And that latter always prevailed, resulting in a feeling of failure, and an action of backsliding.  I decided at some point that life handed you enough natural failures without proactively creating any artificial ones.

I’m not saying the every new year doesn’t bring new hopes.  It’s very difficult to count down the waning days of an old year without reflection and introspection, as you look back on the rapidly expiring old year, and look forward to the first days of the next one with new hope and a feeling of starting over again with a clean slate.

So instead of resolutions, I now make goals, a term I like much better.  It leaves a lot more gray area, and creates wiggle room for partial achievements.  I can live with that.  With a goal, there is a lot of room between total success and total failure.  You can even surpass a goal, if you allow yourself that freedom.

In a very small way, I experienced that yesterday.  Kelli and I went for a planned 6-miler around our neighborhood yesterday morning, and around four miles in, we both realized we felt pretty good, so we decided on the fly to add an extra mile, and closed out the old year with a solid 7-miler.  Not a real game-changer, but it felt good just the same.

I often use my running time for deep thought.  Introverts are that way.  The simple act of running is, at once physically draining, and mentally invigorating.  My greatest inspirations have occurred during the run, and those insights have spawned some of my better achievements in life.  And there is no question that not only am I a better person through running, but running has impacted every aspect of my life for the better.  Without running, I would have had a completely different life, and it would have been nowhere as full.

So yesterday, while we ran, I was reflecting on my running past, and how running’s lessons become life’s lessons.  Just about anything one needs to know about life can be learned within the run.  Running is a powerful teacher as long as the student is ready. 

As the run continued, my thoughts moved forward to today, the first day of 2012. It was 30 years ago, 1982, when I first committed to running and racing, and my life changed forever.  That’s a lot of years of life lessons.  I can vividly remember those early days of running, and how in awe I was of the runners I met who had already been at it for 20 years or more.  I truly never thought that would someday be me.

I’ve blogged my running thoughts in the past, but over time, much like running, writing presents its own set of challenges.  It becomes more and more difficult as time passes to find fresh topics that no one else has already written about.  It is even more difficult as the years pass to come up with new thoughts that YOU have not already written about. And the whole time, it is a test to present the thoughts in a way that someone else might have an interest in reading.

By the time our run was done, I had made three firm decisions.  I knew I was going to climb up to our attic and pull down 30 years of old running T-shirts that been sitting there for years.  I knew I was going to pull out 30 years of old running logs. (only the last 10 or so have been electronic) as supporting documentation.  And I knew that I was going to use said T-shirts and running logs in support of my new goal for the new year, which will be to jump-start my writing again by recounting my first 30 years of running.  I accomplished the first two missions within an hour of finishing the run.  Achieving the third will take time, but today is hopefully the start.

The irony is that for those early years of running, I remember almost every run vividly.  Without reviewing logs, I could probably rattle off every race I did those first couple of years, what my time was, and what the T-shirt looked like.  Every run had its own uniqueness, and created its own memory.  It was much like the start of a love affair.  Every run took on its own significance. 

On one of the running groups I belong to on Facebook, someone asked a few days ago why bloggers blog about running.  It made me think and wonder why I stopped blogging several years ago, and came to the conclusion that I reached a point that I just didn’t have anything interesting to blog about.  My blog cycle had run its course.  But what I read from responses is that I really do still have a lot to say, 30 years worth, and I may be approaching a time of life to start saying it again.

I have 30 years of history to recall, 30 years of inspiration to share, 30 years of races to recount, and 30 years of documenting runners behaving like runners.  I have 30 years of lessons learned, 30 years of successes and occasional failures, and 30 years of motivation for new runners who today are in the exact same place I was 30 years ago, and I can provide 30 years worth of reasons to stick with it for the next 30 years.  I think I am qualified. 

Today, the first day of 2012, Kelli and I went to the New Years at Noon 5K in Athens, GA.  I almost talked us out of going, citing comfort and laziness as reasons, but we decided at the last minute to go.  We ran, Kelli much better than me, as is usually the case.  In 30 years I have slowed more than I would have guessed, but it has not diminished the desire to continue running for the next 30 years.  This will be one of the many focuses I’m sure I’ll be writing about from time to time.

It’s funny how the cosmic energy of the universe pulls in a certain direction from time to time.  After the race, I was approached by Tim Bagley, who asked me if I would consider writing a blog for his new web site.  It confirmed that my goal for the new year is a valid one.

Funny you mention that, Tim.  I think I just might. 

What do you think?