36 seconds and the rest of my life

I missed registration for Boston by 36 seconds. A seemingly insignificant amount of time that actually carries a tremendous amount of weight. Two years of training, two Ironman races, countless obstacles overcome and a inspirational amount of support leaves me wondering when enough is enough. I qualified for Boston, which was my initial goal, but then had to set the bar higher so I wouldn’t quit. Running fast is fun, which is why I continue to do it. However, there is part of me that wants get out while getting out is good. I’m retiring from running fast.

One thing that remains constant through all of the training I’ve had to endure is how I feel. Some days I feel miserable, suffering for no reason, just to get miles in. Other days I feel fast and unstoppable. How to make the decision to the stop running fast is as hard as making the decision to start running fast. There isn’t really a iron reason to start, yet I started to put in work, pay my dues to society. I ran to motivate and inspire and to learn about determination. Running occupied my time similar to a job. I ran like it was my job. I ran to show people I’m not lazy. I ran for the inherent equality of winning a footrace. I ran for others. I ran so that hopefully others would not need to suffer. Running seems meaningless to some, but it holds a lot of meaning to me.

Why stop running fast now? There were lessons to learn and I feel like I learned them. Similar to other things in life, to run fast, less is more. I learned how to focus my training to be as effective as possible. Do I think I can run another marathon to register for the Boston Marathon by shaving 36 more seconds off my time? Sure I do, but why? During those moments when I’m running and I’m all in, gasping for breath just trying to hold it all together, why? At one time it was a display of shear determination in an effort to impress and maybe bring some benefit into the world, but no longer now that I realize less is more.

The more I try to run fast, the more injuries I have and the slower I run. The more effort I put in the harder it is. The secret to running fast is to try less. I’m still learning what it means to surrender myself to all the reasons I started, to the speed, to the growth. The more I try, the more fatigued I feel. The more fatigued I feel the more I must trust in the training to bring me through the hard spots. A great coach once said “good form will get you through the hard parts.” I’m living at my critical mass of effort. Now what.

Confidence is believing I can do it. It’s so hard to stay confident when I don’t know what else I can be doing to go faster. I’m not looking for sympathy or making excuses. I’ve been honest with myself and am doing everything I can to make it to the next level, in a balanced way. After all, running is a hobby and I must stay mindful of how my determination affects those who I love. To have confidence now is about more than self will, it’s about more than just me. How I move past this is to surrender myself to believing in something greater than myself.

We all have self doubt, but in it lays an opportunity for real growth. Running is a self actualizing experience to me and I’m inspired by the people I run with. It’s such a tight squeeze to make it to the next level, however to quit is to hold in vain all of the things I started for, self-determination. I know many people who have gone through this stage, but I have not understood the difficulty until now. There is no call to action here, because running is a reflection of life. I must surrender to my passion and when things get hard and remember, good form gets me through the hard parts.

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