Thursday, August 27, 2015

Reflections on Eight Years of Running

     My running Fiscal Year Eight is drawing to a close.  Of course it's not really a fiscal year, just stealing accounting/budgeting terms.  But in August of 2007 I was in Washington D.C. with my middle sister, running around the mall, past the White House etc.. when I decided I would run a marathon before I turned thirty.   I came back to my home in Selma, TX linked up with a running group in Sept. A group of ladies, housewives, working moms, etc...  On November 11th I ran my first marathon.  On 8 weeks of training.  Boy did I have a lot to learn.
     At the time I was dating a friend I had known since high school, and I was truly into her.  But I had a lot of things I needed to work on.  I'm not sure if I identified those things and started running, so I could sort them out.  Or, rather I started running and those things appeared to me things I need to fix.  Either way, I felt I had to go through that learning/discovery/fixing process alone and broke up with her.  I haven't had an actual "girlfriend" since.  Sure there have been some liaisons, but there have also been my beautiful lady friends who are just that, my good friends. 
     The last eight years have been one hell of an experience.  And I've learned quite a bit about myself, about running, and life in general.  I fell head over hills for someone who did not return that same affection.  Changed job positions at work, had about 4 new managers.  Traveled around the world, tried to give up drinking, then drank more.
     I thought it would be cool to have a "fan" base on social media, and through my blog.  I've sent out post cards, etc... from Hardrock and India.  Then one day I felt overwhelmed and just deleted one thousand or so folks from Facebook.  I left almost every ultraunning group I was in.  Unliked page after page, and even made all my You Tube videos private.  I turned inward the further and further I ran, and no longer wanted to share my experiences though video or written form. 
     I started a sole-proprietorship run coaching business called Sharp Coaching, mostly for tax purposes.  I made some mistakes, but I also have helped quite a few athletes achieve their goals in running.  I felt honored that they chose me to help them and they were successful.  My part is minimal in the process, they did the work.  I have been fortunate enough to work with my good friend Vincent and be a part of Trail Toes and Tire Trainer
     I have almost lost count of the number of 100 mile or longer distance races I've DNF.  It doesn't really matter anyway. I've run in various mountain ranges: Himalaya, the Rockies, the Appalachians, the Wasatch, the Davis, and Guadalupe.  In various states: CO, CA, VT, GA, UT, WO, TX, MO, AZ, AL, TN, and maybe a few more.  Even have been to Nicaragua and India twice. 
     Initially I thought running would "take me some where" in the existential sense.  I'm not sure if it did, but I have traveled a bunch.  I'm still your quintessential impatient, but very direct American/Texan where ever I go. I don't mind that at all.
     In the first few years when you start running, it's all about oh I'm a runner now so all the issues I have gonna be all better, just like so and so in that book I read about his running.  Then you figure out, that maybe, you like who you are, but just need to accept it.  So you don't change too much, but have the courage to tell folks to go fuck themselves.  That's always a good feeling.
     I'm at the point now where I feel like, hey I can actually run and I know what I'm doing.  At least more than I did 5 years ago.  And I still like running.  I still like the challenge/thrill of a 5 mile run or a hike up the side of the mountain.  I can run in circles for days or travel point to point. 
     What's running brought to me in life?  A new lifestyle.  Great friends. Something to talk about with the dude down at Starbucks as I'm pulling a tire down the freeway.  Self-satisfaction.  I think that in Jan of 2014 I made a resolution to affect change in at least one person though my commitment to running.  In 2014 I feel like I did that. I feel the same today. 
     I learned that my two main drivers in life have been fear of abandonment and fear of not being accepted.  When you can really reach down real deep and come too as simple of an answer as that, then you've run enough, and you've thought enough.  Now, what can you really do once you have those answers?  Man, I don't know.  But I found them.  Now I don't listen to music much when I run or when I'm at home, or the TV for that matter.  I don't feel the need to zone out and play some noise in the background for company.  I'm okay right here at my kitchen table.  No worries.
     As I sit here with my Hypoxico mask on, at 82% O2 saturation, I often wonder, "WTF am I doing this for, this running, this goal setting?"   I wish I could tell you I found the answers we're all looking for, but I'd just be lying to you.  I guess just because I like it.  Kinda like key lime pie.  I just like it.
     So I hope to see you on the trails, the road, on the side of a mountain.  Or hell maybe even on your road bike.  I may not even yell obscenities at you.  And I hope that you get to the point where you run, not from your problems or because of them, but just for the sake of running.  When you reach that point, then the birds will always chip, the sun will shine even when it's cloudy, and your breathing won't be labored.