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The Fragility of Excellence September 17, 2005

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

I “ran” 18 miles today. That is what I am calling, excellence. Before I started marathon training, I had never run more than 6 miles. I’ve tripled that total now. I can now be counted among the idiots who do this kind of thing.

I am learning a lot about myself in this process. You would think that your body is the only real variable in doing something stupid like this, but it is not. There are tones of people whose bodies could do this, but their minds could not.

Miles 1-6, my mind was imagining a conversation between me and my editor at the local newspaper. They are pinching me and I think I need to make some proactive moves with them. BOOM! 6 miles down.

Mile 7 my knees began to ache some. No biggie as I have had this experience before. It did not feel like a threat except that I had 11 more miles to go. “If my knees already ache, how bad will they be in five miles?” My assumption was that I would continue to get worse.

Mile 9, I for got the aches as my legs began to tingle. Naturally this concerned me as I thought that I might be cutting the run short. I never assumed that my legs would tingle, but then stop tingling. I would never have found out that they do indeed stop if you just keep on. Keeping on was the only way to know that. Now I know it.

I was thinking at this point about a cool article on the emerging church having to do with automobile fuel.

Mile 12, the tingling retunred. “Well,” I said to my self,” if it went away once it will go away again.” It did. Also as I run I have a 3 mile loop starting and ending at my house. On the hood of my car are lined 12 ounce bottles of Powerade. With each 3 mile loop I reward myself with a freah Powerade. Today I had 6 Powerades, 5 blue and one red. At the end of mile 12 I had to choose betwen the last two, blue or red. I drank the blue thinking, “I’ll need the color red to give me a burst of energy for the last 3 mile loop of my 18 mile run.” After running 12 miles, this is the way a mind begins to think – my mind anyway.

Any and every way to perceive an advantage is important in long distane running.

Mile 15, the tingling legs had let up 2 miles earlier, but both arms, more the left than the right, began to tingle. I have never had this sensation crom running. It was like both funny bones on my elbows were bumped. Stroke? Nope! I soothed myself with the thought of the red Powerade.

Mile 16, the little toe side of my left foot began to ache and my calves threatened the go into a cramp. I was fully aware that the position of my big toes would either trigger or buffer against the cramping. Toes up and I am good; toes down and I am introuble. So I thought of my big toes. With each step I lloked for a certaincontour of the ground for my left foot to step on that my ease the aching it felt.

I was very fragile at this point. The slightest hill to go up was emotionally crushing and the slightest hill to go down was exhilerating and relieving. The flavor of the red Powerade biting the tip on my tongue was so good that I said, “man that’s good,” out loud – to no one.

Today is 4 miles more than I have ever run. For me, it is excellence and proff that I can push myself farther than I could have ever imagined. At the same time it has taught me that there is a fragility, a vulnerability that excellence, accomplishment and effort produce. In short, it is risky to go to the max. There is no fragility in resting in the comfort zone. There is also no joy.

My pain and tiredness today will produce in me a very restful sleep tonight.



1. MichaelPolutta - September 19, 2005

I am training for my 2nd half-marathon at the end of October. Most folks I know truly don’t “get it” how much I enjoy running longer distances. I want to work up to a full marathon as well – my right hip willing! When is your marathon, and which one are you running? Have you discovered active.com yet? An excellent site for all things fitness.

I just ran the US 10K here in Marietta, GA (www.us10K.org). Took me just over 51 minutes on this VERY hilly course. I was trapped by walkers at the beginning, boxed in for a while! There were over 10000 runners/walkers/etc. for this race. I’ll know next time to be closer to the front of the starting pack so I don’t get trapped behind a wall of slow folks.

Excellent side-effect from the 10K training – I’ve lost about 15 pounds! I think I need to go shopping for pants that fit!

2. Fajita - September 19, 2005

Excellent, a fellow runner out there. I am running St. Jude’s Marathon in Memphis on December 3rd. Can’t wait.

I ahve not heard about active.com, but I am about to head over there right now.

Took me 5 hours t go 18 miles. That is clearly a very slow pace. I do not care about time, but I do care about accomplishment.

Maybe at Zoe we can talk running – and knee and hip pain as well.

3. Steve Jr. - September 19, 2005

Good work on the eighteener!

I did 14 yesterday morning. I’m training for the Dallas White Rock Marathon in December. It will be my second. I think marathoning is like getting tattoos — it’s addicting.

Keep us posted on the training.

4. Steve Jr. - September 19, 2005

St. Jude Memphis Marathon! No way! I did that one in 2003. It’s a GREAT race. You run by most of the great Memphis landmarks, and it’s pretty spectator friendly. Can’t wait to hear how it goes.

5. scott - September 19, 2005

Congrats! I am attempting my first ten-miler this afternoon.
I began running back in November after shedding 60 pounds. There is nothing like it.

6. Fajita - September 19, 2005

Hey, lots of runners reading. I’m pumped. Steve, really looing forward to Memphis. And Scott, 60 pounds? Stud!

I’ll keep an occasional post here about my progress. Thanks for the interest.

7. Brandon Scott - September 20, 2005

You ran WHAT??? I thought you said 18mi…surely that’s not true.

And…Steve is right and wrong. Tatoos ARE addictive…not that I’d know…rumph frumph.. BUT marathoning???

Keep running, bro.

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