Friday, April 3, 2015

Stepping Stones

This is a repost. I came across this little gem cleaning up the archives—a reminder of something I needed to hear today. Read and be encouraged my friends.

While taking a walk along the beach, recovering from having finished the LJ100 just days before, I found something buried in the sand. I thought it might be a fossil as the rock, which was gradually being uncovered by the lapping waves, appeared to have markings on it. The kids would love to add a fossil to their growing 'beach treasures' collection and so I kicked it out of the sand with my feet, then washed it in the lake water.

When I turned it over I discovered that what I thought was the fossil imprint was actually hand writing. Someone had written the message "ENDURE."

A fitting treasure for the summation of a journey that was my Lumberjack 100 experience. I keep the rock in my living room, an immutable testament to an accomplishment I once thought never possible.

Today I went for a 5k run around our neighborhood. The pavement was still wet from yesterdays thaw and yet the wind was biting with snow flurries. Running in March. In Michigan.

I couldn't help but think about the last time I trained for the River Bank Run 25k—running the same 5k route on the same March day some years ago. I set a lofty goal for myself that year: to finish in under 2:21:00. The previous year I had a finished at 2:31:06. Expecting to shave my time by 10 minutes was setting the bar high. In fact, anyone I mentioned this goal to strongly urged me to lower my expectations. I was glad I never revealed my true goal of seeing a 2:15 on the clock. A time that would require a pace faster than I had ever recorded over any distance, including a measly *3-mile 5k race.

I ended up running a 2:13:03.

The roads and paths of my neighborhood are much like that rock—a physical, tangible reminder of a dream made real. A testament of hard work, perseverance, and commitment.

What is my purpose in sharing this? I believe its important to mark our accomplishments so that on a day like today—a day where running feels as foreign as visiting Mars, where my schedule is in a vice, my body tired and sore, and the landscape between myself and my 'goal' has collapsed in an expanse equivocal to the Grand Canyon—I can recall having been there before. And, that eventually, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Days like today, even seasons filled with weeks of days like today, are a necessary part of the journey. Big Dreams aren't achieved without the grueling, relentless, suffering work.

And each dream accomplished is not merely 'something we once did' but rather the rocks that build the foundation of our lives. I know that's a deep thought. But its true. The characteristics we gain from sport: commitment, dedication, goal-setting, hard work, perseverance, endurance—everything we do in our athletic lives (be it running or mountain biking or swimming . . . ) translates into every other aspect of our lives. How we conduct ourselves in our careers, how we parent, how we relate in our marriages.

Take some time today, remember your accomplishments and all the things you thought weren't possible, maybe it was running that first mile or going on your first mountain bike ride. Be encouraged and motivated by that experience and use it as a stepping stone to the next big thing in your life.

*I know I am being redundant, but some people are unaware that a "5k race" is not a type of race but rather represents the distance, which is 3.1 miles.

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