I often think back to my high school days when I would make fun of my friends on the track team. “So let me get this straight- you just run, everyday, in circles, and that’s it? How is that enjoyable?” Oh the irony…
Before I signed up for the 2010 Chicago Marathon, the thought of running more than once every few months was less than an impossibility. I had absolutely no idea what training for a marathon entailed, but I was young and dumb which both turned out to benefit me. I wrote that there is “no time limit on greatness” in my chicago marathon rap that year, not yet experiencing its true meaning until I crossed that finish line three weeks later. I beat my goal by a few minutes, but I soon realized that my time was meaningless. What I spent the next year grinning about wasn’t that one 4 hour run in October. I trained for 7 months and fought through the ups and downs, making it to the starting line, in one piece, in an ugly yellow sleeveless shirt. As I left the finish area in 2010, a random guy asked me if I will ever run a marathon again. “Not. A. Chance.”
Well, that turned out to be a lie. I ran the 2012 and 2013 Chicago Marathon and running is without a doubt a huge passion in my life. Funny how that works out. People often ask me why I still do it. Now I understand what I failed to see in high school. I run because it gives me the opportunity for greatness. If you’re wondering if I’m Kenyan, I’m not. If you’re assuming I must run a sub 3 hour marathon to make such a statement, I can’t (yet?). Let me explain. I think people often get “greatness” and “success” confused. Success is a promotion, or a state championship, or marrying a super model. Greatness is about the journey; it’s about throwing every ounce of heart into that journey to put yourself in a position to succeed. I don’t care if you ran a marathon in 6 hours. If you trained with a fierceness and motivation day in and day out, stood at the starting line with zero regrets, and did it all with an attitude of a champion, YOU achieved greatness before you even step foot on that course.
I run because it’s hard. I could think of a fancier word, but it’s just hard. I could quit doing this, and believe me I think about it every Monday morning, but I know I can improve. I could work out at the gym, lollygagging on the elliptical for 30 minutes, but there is no greatness on the other end of that machine. The challenge of improving and ecstasy of crossing the finish are so much better than any other workout. I’m sorry p90x- I tried you for six months and while I enjoyed the 2.5 abs that poked through, you’re just not going to cut it. I’m sorry hot yoga, but doing downward dog in a pool of sweat next to a random woman’s pool of sweat is not for me, and quite frankly shouldn’t be for anyone who values hygiene.
I run because at the end of the day, these are races. I’m not racing against the thousands of runners though. I’m racing against the voice in my head that says “Hit that snooze buddy, I dare you”. I’m racing against everyone who thinks I’m crazy for waking up at 5am to run 20 miles. I’m racing against the self doubt that inevitably creeps in when training gets tough. I’m racing myself- because I know that if I conquer this, if I survive this physical and mental shock therapy that we call marathons, I have the confidence to take on anything in life. I could leave you with a random cliche like “life’s a garden-dig it”, but that would be corny. I’d prefer to leave you with an original cliche that I might get tattooed on my chest: Life’s a marathon- just keep moving and try not to chafe.
See you in Green Bay,