Friday, February 11, 2011

Simple Reward

"When you have completed 95 percent of your journey, you are only halfway there."   - Japanese Proverb

Man, the guy who first said that must have been like, "Yoka namae wa nan desu ka!" ... but he must have also been eluding to the marathon!  Several people have asked me what my finishing time will be at the Austin Marathon next week.  Will I BQ again?  Will it be in the 3:30's?  Will I have to crawl to the finish line?

Doubt it.

The truth is, I'm just not feelin' the ol' 26.2 this time for some reason ... but I can tell you in all sincerity, that's okay!  It's not that I don't care, or am admitting defeat.  It's just that I am slowly but surely beginning to look at this whole running thing in a different light.

My training times have been up and down lately.  I've really battled dead-legs (I know, I know, over-training). The weather has been bad and worse.  And hills seem to be freaking me out ... more than usual.  I just don't know that I have a fast race in me this time.  But that's simply okay!  "Fast" is all relative anyway.

Why this serenity from "Ultra competitive-to-a-fault Jim"?  I dunno!  But the typical sense of urgency I feel a week before a race is just not diggin' into me like it usually does.  Maybe it's because a BQ is already under my belt and I'm a little unmotivated.  'Could be the tough course in Austin scaring me a little. Or maybe I've just accepted that it's impossible for me to run my best race in the winter.  But whatever the reason, I have a genuine peace with just being able to run a comfortable, manageable race.

As I sit here watching American Idol (yeah, I watch ... so, I admit it), I can't help but think about all these kids who are competing.  Almost all of them are heart-broken when they're eliminated, and it got me thinking ... did they enjoy the journey?  Did they love the hours of practice?  Did they cherish the once in a life time trip to Hollywood?  Or did they simply base everything on the success of their journey?  If, what pressure. If that's the case, only one person is going to be satisfied at the end.

I ask Michael (and myself) all the time, "If there were no races, triathlons, or clocks ... would you still run & train?"  Now I can't speak for her or anyone else, but as for me ... the answer is an emphatic YES!!!

I AM many things.  Christian.  Father.  Husband.  Good co-worker.  Wanna-be comedian.  These are some of the principle identities that define who I am.  But I am also a RUNNER!  I run when the thermometer says 0 or 100.  I run when my quads are sore.  I run when I'm sleepy or when I'm full of energy.  I run, and then I run again ... and I enjoy every step of it.  Heck, I would even run if a mountain lion was chasing me.

Running has given me so many things ... self-confidence, a healthy life, and much more will-power and perseverance to name a few.  But I think more than anything, it has given me the ability to be thankful and appreciate many of life's small joys along the way like never before.  Here's a few ...

- I'm thankful that I can run, or even walk ... a lot of folks can't
- I'm love that my family & friends make me feel special just for having the courage to try
- I've only completed 8 marathons, but I've already experienced a lot of new places
- My daughter now runs with me
- My son is proud of me, but getting him to admit it might be a chore
- I helped nudge my wife into Triathlons, though she probably won't admit it
- I've made new running friends, both in "real life" and in this very supportive blog world
- And I'm learning finishing well is awesome, but the journey is becoming the real reward

So will it be disappointing & a little embarrassing if I have a slower than anticipated time to report from Austin ... heck yeah!  But will I allow it to define me ... heck no!  I'm understanding more and more that all of the miles, all of the mornings in the dark by myself before 6am, all of the little victories and defeats in setting a personal training pace record - or struggling through a workout, are simply about one thing ... the reward found in the journey.  And I'm glad I took this path.
... be great today!


  1. I think I really do love the journey more thatn the race itself. The race always seem like the icing on the cake. The real challenge is making ti to race day in one piece, at least for me.

    Be great today!

  2. Jim, you are so much more than a time from a race, good to see you embrace that.

  3. Thank you for being such an awesome encourager! I tagged you as "Stylish Blogger" on my blog.

  4. You are a much stronger runner than I will ever be. Thanks for not getting so caught up in the time and focusing on the journey. It is encouraging for those of us that are pace challenged.

    Your blog is one of my favorites! I feel like I'm getting a bit of much needed therapy. :o)

  5. great post! the elevation profile from the Austin Marathon does look pretty imposing, with a long gradual hill that takes you from 450 feet all the way to 820 feet or so. That will be tough. But like you say, I realized that marathons are as much about the journey as the actual destination. The destination is great, but you learn so much about yourself during the journey.

  6. Loving your blog. I have a plaque in my house that says
    "Enjoy the journey"
    I think you can apply that to running as well as all aspects of life.

    Good luck on your marathon, you never know you may surprise yourself out there!

  7. One word: PERFECT

    More words....enjoy the journey and you will enjoy the destination more. You can look back and reflect on everything that went into that finish line and then be able to embrace it with both arms.

  8. Loved reading this post. I find that when I'm feeling "un-enthused" about a run, that's sometimes when I end up doing my best. Maybe this will be true for you in Austin! And, I completely agree--if you're only running for the "prize" at the end, you're missing the point, and the joy!

  9. Wow - this is my first time visiting your blog and I am impressed! How inspiring for newbies like myself. ;)

  10. Good post! I like your message!

  11. I didn't know that you had dead legs, but based on the training times I saw, I think you will actually have a good race. I really do. Now please rest very hard this weekend and next week. That is an order.

  12. Great post Jim!
    For me it started out as the journey, amazing myself that I could improve a little each run. Then I got reading running blogs and found out about all the technical stuff - You're supposed to try to finish within a certain time?? For me, just getting out there was huge, and finishing the small distance I set out to do. Wow! I was pumped. Then I started pressuring myself and wasn't enjoying the runs as much and getting down if I wasn't going fast enough. Then I read on SUAR's blog - be where you're at- and got my perspective back - will I ever even run one marathon? I don't know, but then again, I never thought I'd run 10K and I've gone beyond that. I'm in it for the journey, and throwing in some races are a fun way to challenge myself sometimes. I'd also like to do trail running.

  13. What a great post. The reminder to slow down and enjoy the ride without hinging that joy on the outcome is a great one. Good luck next weekend!

  14. You are such a joy and encouragement. Thanks for pushing me to be better in life (not just with running, but with everything). You are my favorite and I love running with you, Daddy. It is seriously my favorite!


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