Thursday, April 23, 2015

Prelude to Infinitus 888K: Forced Marches in the Arena

Teddy Roosevelt once gave a speech and mentioned this: 

     It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 
      What does the Infinitus 888K mean to me?  A number of things I suppose.  A word given. A challenge accepted. Training embarked upon. A life, or a subset thereof.  

     In Jan of 2014 the RD asked me to participate in the Peak 500, but I declined because of Hardrock 100.  I told him in 2015 I would come to his race.  And his race is the Infinitus 888K.   I don't know anyone who can answer true the question, "Why do you run Ultras?"  There is no answer for this question.  Well I guess there could be, but I haven't heard one that would satisfy the George Sheenan "runner philosopher" method of inquiry and is that really valid. George's "why we run?"  Find a better me, existentialism  etc... 
     Going back to a line from Teddy's speech, "who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst,if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat"  
     Spend myself in a worthy cause, knowing great achievement, failing or succeeding.  Accepting a challenge where I am not guaranteed success.  A challenge that asks for 240 hours of your commitment.  240 hours.  That is 10 days of a persons life.  No small ask in today's age.  Will you calm yourself enough to get in the minimum 15 hours a day of work?  Will you honor your commitment and your word?  Is your experience enough to know what to do when it's time to do it?  
     Anyone can struggle for 5 hours or 12 or 24, 240 hours is like a whole lifetime.  Truly it is.  Am I apprehensive?  Certainly.  Can I do it, I don't know.  Is it really even worth it?  I don't know that either.  
     I'm going because I don't know.  My greatest achievements have always been embarked upon with a sense, "IDK WTF is going to happen, but I'm saddling up, and I'll ride."  When I left for the Army that early June day of 1996, I didn't know that event and the numerous ones thereafter would bring me here.  I never knew the philosophical inquiry I started by reading Plato and Aristotle at 15 y/o would get me to Epictetus.  And embracing Stoicism.  And really wondering, "Are you committed?" 
     Are you committed like Marcus Aurelius was when he said, "Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also."
     The race starts on May 21.  It ends on May 31.  Those days in between, those are the days I want to live fully again.  Pressing on each day, with a sense of mission.  No cubicle, no emails, just me and my mind and my body, smiling away, suffering, being joyous, taking in the sunrise and sunset.  Moving, moving, moving.... 




    


 

 

1 comment:

Fawn Simpson said...

I'm so excited to hear about your latest adventure. Being sidelined from running for a while, I tend to live and dream vicariously through others. I wish you well and look forward to frequent updates and inspiring yet funny stories from your journey.