Saturday, December 31, 2005

Reflection and Introspection

Poised on the brink of New Year's Eve and less than 24 hours from doing the Fat Ass 50K I can't help but look back over the past twelve months and reflect upon my journey from there to here, from then to now. It was at this very same time of the season last year that I resolved to qualify for the Boston Marathon. In the days between Christmas and the New Year last December I was at loose ends and rummaging around for something to do, a goal, a sense of purpose - Hell, even I wasn't sure what I was looking for. But reading the History of the Boston Marathon was a prime motivating factor. And once I was forty-five, a 3:30:59 qualifying time seemed tantalizingly close to my 3:53:12, a time I had just achieved in Victoria that past Fall..

I am not even sure why I chose Boston. Possibly in large part, and I say this now in all honesty, because it seemed like such a nearly impossible task. It seemed almost undoable, just beyond my grasp. I had struggled, really struggled, for the better part of three years to crash through the four hour barrier in a marathon. And having done that, I promptly decided that I had to do something else. Of course, given my recognition of my amazing powers of procrastination and my rare ability to seduce the canine, I knew I needed something of an incentive to keep my nose to the grindstone. I love the whole idea of the grandiose scheme, but let's face it, most grandiose schemes then take a gargantuan effort to pull off. Think of the Pyramids and the Great Wall of China or the Panama Canal, climbing Mount Everest or reaching the Poles without having to eat your sled dogs, or Jessica Simpson's career. Near impossible feats, every one of them. When I stumbled across a few Blogs I really did have a Eureka! moment. What better way to spur myself on than to face endless public humiliation?!

Now, having qualified for Boston, I have enjoyed a small sense of achievement, but nothing on the scale I thought it would be. I am a little surprised at this. What was I expecting, I wonder? Garlands of flowers, public accolades, newspaper headlines, nubile young women prostrate at my feet, rounds of free drinks in the bar? Well, all of them of course, especially the nubile young women, but also something I am not quite sure I am able to put my finger on.

After a year of running and striving and struggling, a part of me, a big part it turns out, remains unsatisfied. I want more. I am just not sure what the more is. I am happy with my progress for the most part. I have tried to peak for two marathons per year for the past three years, Spring and Fall. And barring injury in the spring of 2004, I have performed a personal best in the last three marathons I have set out to do my best in. I am proud of myself for that. I did enough work to feel that I earned it. Is the wanting more a symptom of the age we live in? Is there no such thing as enough?

This past year, by setting the bar so high in my Boston attempt, I was also forced to train as smartly I was capable of training. I love the fact that I was still able to exercise the discipline necessary to lose twenty-five pounds. Having said that, since qualifying I have also back slid and my weight has crept back up. But I am still fifteen pounds lighter. And after tomorrow I am going back "on the Boston wagon". Why? It really feels great to have a goal and a purpose and a long term objective that requires so much focus. It seems to keep me grounded and I truly enjoy the sense of purpose it lends my life. I love the fact that it puts me in close contact with other people who have similar goals and ambitions and a similar sense of purpose. I like marathoners. I like hanging around with people every bit as obsessed as myself. There is a comfort in knowing that I am not alone in my lunacy. I have company. I am not the only crazed one in the crowd.

My primary goal for Boston is to enjoy myself. Enjoy the experience of getting there. But I also want to honour the race and it's great tradition. I want to run my heart out in Boston. When I qualified in Kelowna, it was my best marathon time ever, but oddly enough, it is the marathon experience that has been the most vivid and memorable one to date for me. I can still replay almost every step of the Okanagan Marathon in my mind's eye, even though it was the most physically demanding of all my 26.2s. This of course flies in the face of accepted thinking. Usually the hardest races are supposed to take so much out of you that all that remains at the end is a blur. To really enjoy the marathon experience goes the accepted wisdom, you have to slow down and smell the daisies.

But I would really like to qualify for Boston again in Boston. I would really like to be able to say that Boston inspired me to run a personal best. That I went to Boston and gave it my all and did my best. So, once again my nature is to be a contrarian and go against the grain and the advice of everyone in the know and go to Boston and do a gloriously impractical incongruous Vince thing.

I can hardly wait....


Blogger Lora said...

I really enjoyed this post. Keep the hunger going!!

7:32:00 AM  
Blogger Love2Run said...

It can be done, enjoy Boston and PR at the same time but you will have to train harder and be twice as prepared as for any marathon you have ever run. She (Boston) can be a cruel mistress ;-)

ie 2004 had temps in the mid 80ies on a clear sunny day with no shade

4:45:00 PM  
Blogger Vince Hemingson said...

Oohhh, I am used to cruel women by now... :)

Whip me, beat me, make me feel cheap...

4:48:00 PM  

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