Dave Griffin On Running: A Muffled Blur
Dave Griffin On Running
A Muffled Blur
We huddled together, gesturing to the camera that we were number one. The cold, damp air didn't seem to bother us by this time. Elation has a way of warming you.
We had just won the tri-state track and field championships by a margin that caused the reporter to use the headline "Blow Out City." To say we were proud would be an understatement.
I have to wonder if I would recognize many of the faces if I saw them now. The thirty years that have passed since the picture was taken has changed us, I'm sure. I wonder too if the rest of them remember that night, one I'll never forget.
When we arrived on the bus, the cold, steady rain had put my teammates in a lazy mood. Most of them were wishing the meet would be canceled, when I stood up and voiced my anger. "Let the rest of the teams worry about the weather," I said. "Then, it will be to our advantage." As a senior, I didn't have many races left, and I had a lot yet to accomplish.
By the time I stood on the starting line of the mile that night, the rain had slowed to a drizzle. I was seeded third, behind two legendary runners. One, Kelly Long, had won the 4A cross country title the previous fall. The other, Jeff Scuffins, had dominated the track that season, and would later win the Marine Corp Marathon in a then course record 2:14:01.
The race went by in a muffled blur. I was aware only that I was on Scuffins' shoulder, running just off his pace. Each lap, the starter held up fingers to show how far we had yet to run. I paid little attention, trying only to hold on.
I don't remember much about the final lap, except that Scuffins began to pull away. I never once saw Long, who would finish third. I crossed the line between the two of them, propelling myself to a new status.
I've often wondered why I ran so well that night. Maybe I felt like I had to set the tone for my teammates. Maybe it was the urgency applied by my dwindling time in high school. Perhaps it was some combination of the two. All I know for sure is that I had never before been so focused. I didn't think at all. I just raced.
Too often, we all think too much. Between the day we are first told that we can accomplish anything we put our minds to, and the day we realize that isn't so, we become subject to the most severe of all limitations, self doubt.
If that's true for you, let me ask you to use your imagination for just a moment. Imagine that you and I are teammates. Together, we're waiting on a bus, while a cold, hard rain beats loudly on the roof.
Imagine the bus is your confinement. Imagine the rain is your obstacle. Listen, as I tell you stop thinking about the weather, to let that be the concern of others.
Now, from wherever you might be, step off the bus, find your starting line, and just race.
Dave Griffin writes a bi-weekly running column and offers coaching to both beginning and experienced distance runners. Contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or join the Dave Griffin On Running group at facebook.com