Going The Distance

Going The Distance

Planning For the Moment
We are often so caught up in the moment that planning ahead eludes us. Somewhere in the chasm between living each day like it’s our last (does anyone do this or is it just a trite aphorism?) and “making plans” (balancing forbearance and forward-looking thriftiness), real living happens. Let’s call it the “gap of living.”

I found myself in that gap of living this past Sunday, standing in the pre-dawn Houston chill at the starting line of the Houston Marathon. I had certainly made plans. One doesn’t just show up at a race a thousand miles from home without booking flights, hotels, rental cars, and safe childcare (all three were alive when we got home and seemed to have eaten…it seems greedy to ask for more), and, of course, registering for the race. None of these were part of my real plan, however. My real plan, you see, was to run a sub-three hour marathon in Milwaukee on October 2, 2011. I’d made that plan in late 2010 and registered for the race in January 2011. I spent nearly 10 months training for that race. I logged miles, ran tune-up races and made big event preparations. That was a plan. When race day came in October, and the gun sounded, I ran the plan — until I didn’t. At Mile 24 (out of 26.2), I lost control of the plan and it set off a series of events that led me, and my race-weary wife, to Houston.

In the days following my three hour, twenty-seven second (3:00:27) Milwaukee marathon disappointment, I quickly swung from a long-held plan to take a needed break from running to asking myself “How can I maintain my current level of fitness and give it another shot?” It was like time travel, without any of time travel’s benefits (I’m referring to time displacement spheres and swinging gull-wing doors, but you may be thinking of hot tubs). My rest and recovery plan suddenly changed to determining where I could run another marathon, how to ramp up my training, and searching for flights…activities that were nothing like eating ice cream and catching up on Breaking Bad. My timeline had been altered. By late October I was logging big miles again and — as regular readers may recall — I was listing breaking three hours as a 2012 goal.

But as for Houston: I had a problem. I turned in a solid 16-mile performance on a 26-mile course and came up short. I think I can explain what went wrong, but I’m not sure that’s the point. In the weeks preceding the race, I talked openly of the post-race rest and recovery I desperately craved — a return to my previous timeline. I may still give it another try in 2012, since the year is but 20 days old. This much I know: The best parts of life often happen as we live them and not as we plan them.

Does all this crazy talk about running marathons entice you to run your own race? Take a look at the Chicago Area Runners Association’s (CARA) Lakefront 10 Miler on April 28, happening on Chicago’s beautiful Lakefront.

About The Photo
Last Saturday (the day before I ran) was the men’s and women’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, also in Houston. This photo shows eventual winner Shalane Flanagan leading Desi Davila (2nd) and Kara Goucher (3rd) near the 17-mile mark. Watching Olympic-bound athletes run made me feel proud.

In closing, I’d like to remind you that if your own life plans this year involve buying or refinancing a home, please give me a call — I’m always willing to go that extra mile for you.

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