Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Training Day Part I

It's been an exceptionally long time since I last blogged.  This is partially due to the difficulty of the last few months and partially due to the fact that I was in the midst of things.  I don't tend to be able to write coherently about anything until I've digested it a bit and I was having a full 7 course meal over the past few months with little time for digestion between.  We are looking at relocating again, changing school districts, making major lifestyle adjustments.  We have had to try to build relationships from scratch in a new place, dive into live here, and face the disappointments that come with other people not necessarily diving into life with you or worse yet mad that when you did so you splashed on them in their lounge chair.

This year I recommitted to run a marathon.  I didn't last year due to a knee injury that stopped me from running a few weeks while training and that training hiatus was prolonged by debilitating depression that came after my soul searching trip into the Himalayas.  Thankfully I was down with Typhoid when the Marathon actually occurred so I could bow out with a little more grace then, I got hurt, got sad, and gave up.  

Round 2 has been more difficult.  I don't have a training partner to run with.  Running a race in May in Cleveland means that the weather is not your friend during most of the training period.  It is hard to run 10 miles when your option is treadmill in a basement or snow.  I've had more blisters than I can count in trying to re-learn how to run and I hobble around like an old cavalry officer most of the time now.  The past month or so my knee started acting up again, I had to travel to California for my grandmother's funeral, and work got crazy.  This all means that I ran less and ate worse for about 2 weeks.  When I got back into it I tried a 12 miler where I pushed too hard and was out for almost another week as my legs and soul recovered.  I barely made 12 miles (the last 4 were an award loping walknjog).  I didn't even get to a half marathon and I was falling apart.

I was talking through my struggles with someone I love and respect and he told me that a half marathon is still a win and I could try the marathon later that year or the next.  I boldly decried with bluff & gusto that I would rather be carried out of the Marathon on an ambulance than settle for the half.  Within 2 hours I was seriously considering the downgrade.  I broke the subject with my young hot wife the next day and she made it very clear that not running the full marathon was simply not an option.  She knew I would not be happy with that decision and she had the courage to push me forward when I no longer wanted to go.  So with her small hand-prints on my back as she pushed me out the door I started to run again.

One crystalline thought entered my consciousness on the run that completely changed my attitude and my perception of what was currently going on in my running life.

I was training for a marathon.

"What?" you say, "how is that any different than the above statement, "This year I recommitted to run a Marathon?"  I have been telling people "I Will run the marathon in May."  And when I catch myself saying "I'm going to try to run the marathon in May," I am quick to correct my internal doubt.  Unfortunately though my commitment was high my understanding was low.  In order for a slightly round 30 year old to run the marathon, in order for his commitment to mean anything, he must train for a marathon.  Training for a marathon means that he must push his body beyond what it and he think are possible so that the distances and intensities grow and so the commitment of running a marathon moves from the plane of hopefully goal setting to a realistic prospect.  To move from brave words to even more courageous action.

One of the great lies I have allowed to define me is that I never finish anything.  There are a lot of things I have finished but that is never really the point.  I hear many people in my generation as well as other echo this sentiment.  We are a culture of non-finishers.  Of starters and someday-completers.  We have forgotten the ideals of training and long suffering.  I read a great Blog Post the other day about Odin and one of the quotes from it was:

The lesson from both of these tales is that gaining wisdom often comes with sacrifice. In our modern age, it seems people have come to believe that if something is hard, or sacrificial, it’s not worth doing. Odin, and his Viking followers, believed in just the opposite. If something is worth having, it absolutely requires sacrifice, and it’s always worth it, no matter how great the cost.

Even re-reading this my eyes mist up.  It rings a deeper truth inside my soul.  I have been afraid of completion and so use the training as an excuse.  I have not had the chutzpah for long suffering and justify my incompletion.  I re-value a desired goal as not being important because I am unwilling to do what it takes to achieve it.  I pursue things that are not worth having because they are obtainable.  In my dreaming I have champagne tastes on a beer budget.  In practice I convince myself that Busch Lite satisfies me because they sell it at the corner store.  Only being back in this country for 6 months and already my desire for comfort threatens to fill my life with cheap ambitions and easily obtainable goals.  A glittering, bedazzled husk of life.

I wish I did not need hard things in my life to keep me growing and learning.  I wish I could somehow become the man I want to be, the father I want to be, the husband I want to be.  I wish my insecurities would fade from more positive thinking and less pain and sweating.  I dream of the day when I pint of ale, a briar full of latakia, a fireplace, and a good book will sculpt the inner man into who I want him to be and that would sculpt the outer-man into the chiseled man of wax I see in my mind.  Times like that are fruitful.  Yesterday morning was spent with a bowl of Westminster, Dunkin Donuts Coffee, and a long chat with G.K. Chesterton that  rested my mind more than 3 hours of sleep could have done.  I had new thoughts and new energies.  But if those new thoughts and new energies are not applied in an aggressive way to my life they quickly fade and I can in only a few hours be back to where I was before.  The physical nature of the training reminds me of the other herculean tasks that lay before me and give me a similar feeling.  I have to train to overcome them.  I have to start working on them or they will never happen.  I need to start typing or I won't write.  I have to start making phone calls or we won't have a home to live in.  I have to go out my door or my community will not be altered by my presence.

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