Saturday, January 14, 2012

2012 - End of Time (as we know it)

This theory is so ridiculous I can't even come up with
a clever caption for the picture
In the Mayan Long Count Calendar, 2012 is where the Mayans stopped counting. They had been tracking the march of time from the beginning of their creation myth up to 2012. For some, this has been taken as a sign of the apocalypse. End times. Time to prepare for the imminent end of humanity. For survivalists and the retail outlets that support them, 2012 will prove to be a cash cow, if only time would continue on so they could spend it! One of my favorite theories is that Planet X, or Nibiru, is on its way to crush us. According to those that believe it, Planet X is a rogue planet on a crash course for Earth.

In my running, 2012 has its own Planet X and imminent "end times". I promised myself that I would make it happen this year. My times have stagnated the past two years, and my marathon times especially have not improved much in that time. Negatives thoughts entered my head last fall when, in my one and only marathon of the year, I bombed terribly. On pace for a huge PR for 18-19 miles, I fell apart so severely that I considered dropping out. Not because I was hurt or couldn't finish, but because I was so disappointed. I had used a strategy in the past of thinking of one person every mile who has inspired me in my life. In the race where I ran my current PR back in 2010, that strategy pushed me so well that my last six miles were the fastest of the entire race. But this last time it was all I could do to finish.

This is the year I am going for that big breakthrough. Train smarter. Have more fun with my running and cycling. To crush a 5k under 18 minutes. Run a marathon not only sub-3:30, but sub 3:20 or better. Conquer the triathlon. Ultimately, win a race, no matter how small.

If for whatever reason I don't achieve some or most of these goals, I fear that the disappointment and the failure might prove too much. In the back of my mind I know it won't, but that fear is there. It is very real to me. It is so strong sometimes that I struggle to get out of bed in the morning and log the daily run.

"Discouragement and failure are the surest stepping stones to success."
- Dale Carnegie

And then, my entire life changed (again)

A few weeks after that marathon, my wife and I found out our lives will change forever. Our first child is on the way. Although I'm not physically capable, I would have done a back-flip if I could have when we found out. That first night I was awake thinking about how drastically our lives would change. Would I be a good father? Can we afford it? What schools will he or she go to? Holy crap, I have to learn to change a poopy diaper!

Now a few months have passed and we have been preparing, slowly but surely, for the new arrival. A strange correlation, but kind of like the 2012 doomsday people, we know that life as we know it will never be the same again. All we can do is prepare. We have no idea what lies ahead after that "end of time".

What does this have to do with running? Everything. Running is a great sport. I can find an analogy for any area of life in running. And my running is something that I have used to spur myself on to bigger and better things. It was running that gave me the confidence to quit a job I hated, blindly, and pursue a larger goal. If I wouldn't have quit that job and started my current job, I wouldn't have met my future wife. I decided how I wanted to propose to my wife on a 20-miler. Some, no, most, of my best ideas in business have come on a run. The way I manage large projects at work resembles how I plan for marathons in the distant future.

I've thought a lot about the future on my training runs the past few months. 50% excitement, 49% fear, 1% doubt. And just like none of us really has control over what the future hold for us - "Humans plan, God laughs" - the only thing I can do is prepare the best I can and worry about the things that I can change. Everything else can fall where it may. Just like in training. Put in your long runs. Grunt out your tempo runs and fartleks and interval sessions. Rest and fuel your body properly. Get outside your comfort zone. If you do what you can and what you should, things will likely fall into place. But if they don't, so be it. You did what you could.

"Whether you think you can or cannot, you're right."
- Henry Ford

I had a great conversation with my dad this week. At the end of it, he said something that he has said as long as I can remember, and I tell myself every time I don't feel like doing dishes or mowing the yard or typing up a monthly report.

"Just do what you are supposed when you are supposed to do it. Everything else will take care of itself."

I don't know anything else that holds more truth than that.

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