Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mr. Disappointment and The Nugget of Wisdom

Last week I had a little setback. At the time it seemed like it might turn into something huge and I could feel the disappointment trying to encapsulate my entire being. It is hard to deal with disappointment especially when you have a plan set in motion only to see the whole thing go up in flames when the unexpected happens. Which is why my friend Mr. Disappointment came a calling when a whispering nagging hip thingy turned into an roaring exploding hip thingy in the middle of a tempo run last Friday. A part of me wanted to become desperate and panicy about having to deal with another injury however another part told me not to sweat it. But why? Why did I not get worried about this setback the way I usually do? "It's elimentary my Dear Watson", you see I have been there before, "Been there, done that". I have learned that disappointments and set backs are par for the course if you are going to be a serious runner. It happens to everyone, the disappointments, the setbacks, no one is immune but how you deal with it separates the new guy from the seasoned pro. Simply stated when you are starting out you just don't get it, there is no perspective, no past events to put things into their proper place. But the events of last Friday showed me that I do now "Get it", and that can only mean one thing, (dare I say) that somewhere along the line I had become a seasoned runner and not the way I ever expected to. The title wasn't handed to me as a medal around my neck on a podium but rather it was seared with pain into my burning hip unceremoniously so when I was forced to stop running last Friday. In the midst of the uncertainty I didn't panic, I didn't think my career was over, I didn't say, "Oh well maybe running isn't for me", I didn't worry that I was not going to be able to run for the next few days or even weeks because I knew that no matter what it was, I would wait it out. I would heal it, baby it, pamper it, strengthen it, massage it, roll it and stretch it as much as it needed and that I would be back to run another day. What set me apart from the newbie runner I had once been was that I now had the benefit of perspective, a coming together and understanding of my collective experiences, a "Nugget of Wisdom" found when I wasn't even looking for one.

So now if anyone asked me for my advice about running and racing among other things I would have to tell them to be prepared to be disappointed. Disappointed in your body, disappointed in yourself, disappointed in your times, disappointed in the process. The sooner they realize that running and racing is fraught with disappointment the better. Learning to deal with those disappointments is fundamental and a much better plan then giving up because you think you just don't have what other runners have. How do you think the other guy/gal got so good to begin with? Once again, "It's elementary", for every win they lost a dozen and for every loss they came back more determined. You do the math, the answer is undeniable and irrefutable, it pays to lose, setbacks and disappointments make us stronger.

Let's break that all down then. If you want to win more you gotta fail more. With every failure comes disappointment but if you can find a means to deal with it, learn from it and carry on then you too can become like all of those runners you thought possessed some magic you did not. Don't let your next setback or disappointment make you fearful and lose hope and know that you are on a journey of learning no matter what your discipline may be, "Nuggets of Wisdom" are out there, in every experience and when you least expect it one will jump up and find you just like the one that found me.

And now for something completely different...
Imagine yourself at a race in the future(a small local race, a regional race, the Boston Marathon, Western State), the RD is getting ready to give the race instructions and you find yourself moving towards the front of the pack. You know where you need to line up and you aren't there yet so you inch your way up, saying, "Excuse me", "Pardon me", keeping your head down trying not to step on peoples feet or note the annoyed look of those who's position you have usurped. Then you finally find it, that just perfect spot and you look up only to be staring directly into the RD's eyes and do you know what???!!! You don't see him/her questioning why you have ponied yourself all the way up into the front of their race because both of you know that that is exactly where you are suppose to be, "Runners take your mark, BANG!!"

I also know that not everyone runs or races to win and that reading my little story about accepting disappointment might make my idea of racing seem like a dismal way to spend ones time. I realize that racing to win and racing for fun each has it's place which is why I came up with this little quote for myself.

There are only two ways to Race,
Racing for Fun and Racing to Win.
Know which one you are doing,
Then do it with No Apologies.(Then do it unapologetically)(Then do it without Apology) I'm working on it.


slowrunner said...

hay ej - not sure if this applies, but one of my fave crossfit quotes is 'pain is fear leaving the body'. so stay tuff and get back at it!
(at least it wasn't a barbell dropped on your foot!)

Eliza Ralph-Murphy said...

"Pain is Fear leaving the body". My new mantra.

I took 3 days off and was able to get 30minutes in yesterday. Coach thinks I will be soon. Until then my brain may continue to explode all over this blog.

No broken bones thank goodness. It can always be worse can't it.

slowrunner said...

yup - could be a hammer that was left on the top step of a ladder falling down and sticking into the top of your head while trying to move it. talk about exploding brains . . . and yes, i really did that!

Lakewood said...

Glad nothing's broken. I know exactly what you mean about disappointment, but I also know what you mean about "been there done that". Spot on with both.

I still remember at VT50 (my first 50) starting off slowly and looking back somewhere around mile 5. There were about 5 people behind me. FIVE. I immediately panicked and thought, "I'm screwed...I'll never finish....these people have all done this before and they must be doing it right. I'm going to run out of time." I was a mess for 20 miles trying to catch up to people until another runner told me to chill out, and that half the people at 50 milers go out too fast and then crash. Sure enough, I passed over 40 people in the last 10 miles.

Now in ultras, I happily smile as others fly by me at the beginning while I think...yep, been there, done that.


As a side note, I think "Racing to Win" also applies to racing yourself too. For example, I don't care if I win the race, or beat that really skinny guy in the fancy mizunos, but I want to PR and beat my fastest time...if that makes any sense.

Eliza Ralph-Murphy said...

A hammer in your brain...that explains alot; ) Hee, hee just kidding.

Eliza Ralph-Murphy said...

Glad to hear a few nuggets of wisdom have found you along your many travels and races.

Oh and yes of course when I say racing to win I mean running your best race.

slowrunner said...

hayyyy! be nice !

Sue said...

EJ, I'm on a 10 day (8 now and counting) no run instruction from my chiro who's working on my calf thingy. Not ideal since I've got a 100 miler in June but I'm taking his advice and being smart about it this time. 10 days feels like a lifetime but better to rest and recovery today so we can run miles tomorrow. Maybe I'll go for a swim :)

Eliza Ralph-Murphy said...

Way to keep care of your calf thingy. It is so tempting to run through those things but ss you say so much wiser not to. Our lake just unfroze here, perhaps I'll go for a little aquarun...NOT;-)