January 15, 2007

Stories I Didn't Tell

I've been having a lot of trouble lately trying to figure out something somewhat worthwhile to write here (assuming that I've ever written anything worthwhile in the first place).
(Which we're going to assume I have, whether you like it or not).
(At least I have thought some of the things I've said were worthwhile, even if you haven't).
(Oh, and my mother once said she thought something here was kinda worthwhile too).
(So maybe it only takes one or two people to prove that something is worthwhile).

Over the past few days I actually started writing a few different things down that seemed, at first glance, fairly promising stories. But when I got halfway through my cheeky little anectdotes, I realized I was just regurgitating a bunch of crapola that was leading absolutely nowhere. So I quit.

For instance, I was going to tell you about how I met Julie Moss and heard her talk about the infamous 1982 race in Kona that sent shockwaves through the world of sports and motivated a generation. It motivated me too, so it was really neat to meet her. But that story really didn't end up going anywhere interesting.

Then I was going to tell you about the speech by Peter Burwash, the former tennis player, current motivational speaker. Peter reminded me of all sorts of wonderfully inspirational quotes throughout his talk. Things like Prefontaine's famous one, To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift. Or US Olympic Coach Herb Brooks' perennial classic, Great moments are born out of great opportunities.

But alas, that story seemed to stall pretty quickly as well.

Then, as I was clutching for straws, I decided to tell you about this morning's 5 mile run through the ice and snow-filled streets of Colorado in the 6 degree temperatures (14 without the windchill). But that didn't seem to go anywhere either so I kinda decided to give up.

Then as I lay in bed I had one of those tremendously painful foot cramps. You know the kind - the ones that emerge from the arch and build in pain until it feels like your toes are curling into your heel. I quickly sat up in bed and moaned fairly loudly as I tried to stretch out my foot to help dissipate the pain.

For some reason, as the pain started subsiding, I began thinking about this mornings run once again. I suppose it was a memory of the pain - the biting chill of the wind searing through my face as I trudged up the icy hill. The faces of the drivers in the passing cars, staring at me in awe and disbelief, as if I had gone off the deep end to be running in this weather. My cheeks had frozen, my lips were numb, my fingers locked in a clenched position. The only way I could tell that I wasn't drooling was from the lack of icicles dripping from my chin.

As I had walked through the halls of the hotel this morning, heading for the doors to the frozen, blustery tundra, people looked at me as if I were nuts. Tell me you're not going to run outside, one of them said. You're crazy, another muttered. I smiled as I opened the doors.

There is a point in the early stages of exercise where it becomes refreshing. Somewhere past the turnoff to refreshing is the exit to pain and discomfort. And if you can make it past that pain and discomfort, you'll arrive at exhiliration. It is the silver lining of sport where we surrender to the depths of our being and face ourselves in all of our truth and honesty. It is the ultimate high. My run this morning was painfully exhilirating.

And so as I reflected on that run it led me to another Prefontaine quote that seems so relevant. He said, A lot of people run a race to see who is the fastest. I run to see who has the most guts.

How apropos I thought. It took guts for me to continue running in that weather this morning. It was as much about exercise as it was about survival.

Naturally, this got me thinking about Julie Moss. Her Kona finish is the true definition of guts and survival. Of willingness to put it all on the line; to commit every ounce of every part of your being towards accomplishing your goal.

As Julie talked the other day and reminisced on those final moments of that miraculous Ironman experience, she referred to it as a turning point in her life. As she lay on the ground, virtually lifeless, a mere 20 meters from the finish line, she experienced complete surrender for the first time. In so doing, she discovered the untapped space within her. When I let go of the things I thought were important, she said, I suddenly realized the things that are important.

And just as quickly, all of the meaningless stories that I wanted to tell you have morphed into a meaningful adventure.

Thank you for bearing with me.


stronger said...

You captured it. The best part about getting out there despite the weather conditions is that next time 6 degrees is no longer a reason not to go for a run.

If you can run in that, you can run in anything...but you already know that, Ironman.

Triteacher said...

You know, Seinfeld, the show about nothing, was one of the best shows ever made... Now I wouldn't ever say that your blog is about nothing, but I would say that you capture a little teensy bit of something better than others of us could grab the whole kit and kaboodle. Thanks for another fine read.

Robin said...

Anyone who quotes Pre twice in one entry can't be going too far astray. I enjoyed your rambling adventure. It seems that every time we step past that exit to pain and discomfort, it makes it that much easier to find the exhilaration the next time.

and P.S. My run this morning was not near as cold as yours (only 18 degrees here), but I ran on Pre's trail!

j. said...

Since Seinfeld is perhaps my favorite TV show and arguably one of the best, consistently humorous television shows in the history of modern man, I will take that as a compliment. I find the ability to create something randomly meaningless out of absolutely nothing interesting is a sure sign of some serious mental disease; a disease of which I would proud to be a victim if it puts me in the same category of Sir Jerry.