On Running: A Crop Worth Harvesting
A Crop Worth Harvesting
The September morning was a stark contrast to the summer-like days leading up to it. The air was crisp, perfect for the 10K race I was about to run.
My training had been going well. I had put in three straight weeks of sixty or more miles, something I rarely did. My track work had been strong as well, perhaps better than it had ever been before.
We started on the streets of the small town hosting the race, and the first mile led us onto country roads close by. Early on, I was letting the race unfold without much thought, the leaders running about 30 yards ahead. That's when the runner beside me said matter-of-factly - "Let's catch those guys."
Together, we surged up to the leaders, and within minutes I was controlling the pace up front. From that point on, I remember feeling like I was floating along the course. By the two-mile mark, there were just two runners struggling to hold on and I smiled as the marshal called out the split. I knew already that the race was mine.
It's pretty special knowing something great is happening, and having time to relish the experience. I turned around at the 5K mark and began the journey back. I could feel the eyes of my competitors and, as I ran on through the forth mile, I heard cheers from the crowd of runners still moving out towards the turnaround.
As I passed back into city limits, a police motorcycle began to escort me toward the center of town. I followed him, feeling myself picking up the pace. There was a final rise, then a descent to the finish where I couldn't help but raise my arms as I crossed the line with a personal best.
Some might say that remembering a day like that is basking in old glory, but there are more important reasons to reminisce.
Before that race, I placed limits on what I could accomplish and I had dreams that I doubted would ever come true. Afterwards, I found a reason to believe in myself and dreams that seemed unreachable were suddenly in the realm of possibility. Why would I want to forget a day like that?
I already knew that hard work and diligence were parts of the success equation, but I learned that day that initiative was a missing piece; I couldn't wait for someone else to tell me when it was time to run with the leaders.
Every time I look back on my best races, I find a lesson worth remembering. It's like a seed was planted each time, and it's only in looking back that I can discover what blossomed. More often than not, it's a crop worth harvesting.
Of course, there are lessons in the setbacks as well, sometimes even more valuable. I've learned through hardship that progress is a fickle thing, not showing itself when you're expecting it. When that happens, it's easy to become discouraged or even loose hope. Don't.
Always believe that some day the stars will line up exactly the way you want them to. And, even if they never do, the thrill that comes from touching those stars is only equaled by the personal satisfaction that comes from reaching for them.
Dave Griffin writes a bi-weekly running column and offers coaching to high school and adult runners of all levels. Contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org