Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Follow that street car

If you're like me and spend a lot of your free time clicking and perusing the links on the right side of this page, then you've likely already discovered this post during your daily exploration of the running blogosphere. If not, I suggest checking it out. For the competitive runners amongst this blog's loyal crowd, it's a frustrating experience, or more appropriately, set of experiences, you can surely relate to. If you can't, there's the inherent universal lesson about never giving up and following your dreams, something all of us can apply not only to our own running, but life in general.

But this is a running blog and Nate's most recent entry forced me to take a closer look at the course my own running career has taken since I graduated from Stonehill in the spring of 2004. After four years devoid of any injury other than a few sprained ankles, I've suffered enough physical maladies in the past three years to warrant donating my feeble limbs to sports medicine research. I've gone from being a paragon of structural integrity to the posterchild for overuse injuries. It's been frustrating, to say the least. The accompanying emotional struggles have proven even more trying and I can honestly say that I'm still shocked I didn't hang up my racing flats after cracking my pelvis last summer. Luckily, Dan Green sent me a new pair before I found space in the closet for the old ones and, well, you know the rest.

All kidding aside, I'm not still running 70+ miles a week, attending weekly workouts and racing my nuts off because I get shoes on a regular basis, look good in short shorts and enjoy showing off my rib cage. No. I get my ass out the door every morning because deep down I still want to see if I can qualify for the Olympic Trials and eclipse that list of numbers posted on the right side of this page.

What I'm trying to get at here is that the achievement of success in this sport, in life, essentially comes down to one thing: desire. Sure, a few other key factors such as hard work, consistency and confidence are necessary ingredients as well, but I've found from my own experiences that without a burning desire, without that willingness to soldier on when you think you've hit rock bottom, those other elements are useless. Hell, they're non-existent.

Luckily, I'm not alone -- actually, I'm in pretty good company. Guys and gals I surround myself with such as Nate, Jeff, Justin, Shad, Driscoll, KG, Erin, Jess, along with a whole slew of others I'm unintentionally forgetting to mention, are still getting up to fight another round when most would have already thrown in the towel. These folks aren't gonna take a standing 8-count -- no, win or lose, they're gonna fight till the final bell.

The lesson here? Keep swinging.

Quote of the day:

"What kept me going? What else was I going to do?...I had no alternative. I wanted to be the best runner I could be so I did what I had to do."
- Nick Rogers


K.Gwyth said...

cheers to that!

Anonymous said...

Mario, I live in Memphis and stumbled upon your blog some months ago. I am currently experiencing my only major injury/setback in five years. I am not the runner that you are, but it sure is frustrating. Seeing countless docs in various specialities and each shaking their head is pretty disheartening. Meanwhile, I cry in my beer (literally) and wish that I could run just a few steps. Sitting and waiting sucks! Glad you rekindled the competetive fires. Spread some my way!
TCB from Memphis (Yes, it's Elvis week)...

S. M. Miller said...

Absolutely. Great quote too. This summer of mine, apparently not unlike many others summers, has not been what I dreamed it would be. That's the problem with dreaming: you open yourself up to disappointment. It's hard to get out every day and put in the miles, though, without some stated or unstated dreams. The Oly Trials are a great goal for you, Mario. Debuting at 2:28 in Vermont really puts you in the game. Plus your PR's at shorter distances indicate that once you build that aerobic engine, you're gonna cruise.

I wish I train and live well without any goals. It would be awesome to be pleasantly surprised at every race. I've gone through some depressive spells when I was pleasantly surprised at most every race -- but maybe I was still running slower than I could have been. It's impossible to know what you're capable of, until you do it. OK, I'll stop babbling.

Nice entry and nice link to Jenkins's reflections on Falmouth. Chrissy Anderson, who runs a little for Whirlaway, was 4th at the 1992 Oly Trials!, compares the professional runner's life to a gambler's because you never really know what you're going to get out of each race, each effort. I certainly don't think God has a plan for my running (maybe he does for Jenkins, but I have no idea why). I think we're all rolling the dice, but unlike gamblers we can trust that out preparing the competition (or our previous selves) will usually result in beating the competition and/or setting a PR. But there are certainly no guarantees--and no secrets.