As I am a writing this, on the other side of the planet, 50 individuals are showing the world what it means to be a hero and demonstrating the definition of sacrifice. In the midst of this tragedy in Japan, these people have turned to face the danger head-on, putting their health and probably their lives on the line at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. I’m not sure if they asked for volunteers and those 50 just raised their hands and said “We will stay and work till the end” but we hope they will be rewarded for their sacrifice.
A few days ago I was reading something to my son and came across the line, “Wherever you go, there you are.” and I think a day or two later I suddenly understood. It’s more than “Enjoy the moment.” It’s: There are a dozen things going on and the list keeps growing, but the moment you are in, the thing you are doing, that is what should have your attention – that is where you should be. As usual, this struck me on a run last week. It was 6:30 PM and I was running along the canyon, it was getting dark and I was having to focus on where my feet were landing. In the moments I should have felt free and relaxed, my thoughts were being bombarded with issues from work. And while sometimes a stroll outside provides a solution to a complex problem, this was just one of those overwhelming, stress-induced attacks.
Then the saying “Wherever you go, there you are” popped into my mind. I realized I was not present and I needed to be where I was. For the moment, I was in the woods and not at a computer and I needed to focus on being there. Nothing I could do at the moment would fix any of my work issues. There would be time for that later. And then I began to realize the obvious, that “WHEREVER you go, THERE you are.” The time I spend with family, I need to be present and not mentally be somewhere else. Maybe in a way it’s similar to Solomon’s, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” I don’t do a very good job of compartmentalizing my thoughts but at some level I’ve realized there’s no point stressing about it if you can’t do anything about it. There are probably hundreds of interpretations and applications of the phrase. But remember, wherever you go, there (or here) you are. Enjoy the journey.
Which brings me to this weekend and the most sought after 50K race in the country, The Way Too Cool 50K. Great to see so many friendly faces at the race and congrats to Lee and Tim for smashing their times last year and congrats to Deirdre and Jeff for becoming Way Too Cool veterans. This year the race unveiled a new course to avoid some of the out-and-back traffic of previous years. I took the data from my Garmin and created a virtual tour of the course with Google Earth.
I approached this year slightly differently, using my Minimum Effective Dose for run training. My highest mileage week was about 74 miles and some of those miles were pushing the jogging stroller with Dylan, discovering the constellations along the way. Most weeks seemed to be between 50 and 60 miles. That may seem like a lot to many but that is not going to win any competitive trail races (not that volume is the key but there is a relationship between quantity and quality that one should follow). I didn’t go into the race expecting a PR but I did want to have a good race and felt surprisingly well throughout the race. I loved the new course and tried to hold back on the pace the first 60 minutes. The first mile came in at sub 6 min/mile but before I imploded I applied the brakes and worked to keep the heart rate at a sustainable pace (around 150). I lost my right shoe in the mud descending down the Western States trail to the Quarry Road but that was it as far as problems. For the first time in a long time, I did not have any stomach issues. I usually start to battle cramps around mile 20 but not so this year. I kept waiting and wondering if they would start to appear and kept reminding myself how good things seem to be going from mile 20 to 26. The climb up to Brown’s Bar always drains the few ounces of gas left in my legs and I even stopped for moment to let my heart calm down. But even from there until the finish my legs felt surprisingly not wasted. I think it was the best I ever physically felt crossing the finish line of a race in a long time. My time of 4:08 was not my best time but given all that life requires right now, I am very pleased with the result. Here’s the data from my Garmin. So there I was.
There is one more story you might be interested in following. Simon Wheatcroft is legally blind and is training to run a 100 mile trail race in June. Here’s his perspective: www.andadapt.com
So try to remember, “Wherever you go, there you are.” Let’s enjoy where we are.