I spent this last weekend at the Houston Marathon Expo. Although it made for a slightly exhausting 3 days, I really like doing that kind of stuff. It’s so non-stop that suddenly you realize you’ve been there for 12 hours straight and never stopped talking for five minutes. It’d be rough doing that every weekend, but every so often it’s a lot of fun.
While there, I got to see a lot of Colorado folks going for last minute OTQ’s or sharpening up for the Trials via the Houston Half: Tommy Neal, Pat Rizzo, Carlos Trujillo, Sage Canaday, my UCCS college running buddy and basically semi-adopted brother Gabe Small, and a few others. So it was a little taste of being back in the CO again and was awesome seeing everyone.
Admittedly, leading up to last weekend, I was feeling a bit on the homesick side, feeling a bit salty and missing home and familiar faces and people who actually knew my name, and I wanted more than ever to be back where I came from. I’m a bit of a weenie when it comes to that sort of thing, and I told myself before I moved out here that this would definitely happen, maybe sooner rather than later and probably more than once. I knew I’d probably get to around the one month mark and decide this Texas thing wasn’t for me and high-tail it back to Colorado. But I also told myself that no matter what happened I would buck up and give it a truly fair shake.
To sound uber-cliché and oh my gosh I cannot even believe I’m going to go here: I was thinking about it and realized that’s just one other thing I learned from this running thing; that there’s a million times you’ll want to quit it all cold-turkey but if you just hang on it’ll get a million times better and that it’s always worth it, even when you don’t see it at the time. If I rewind 15 years ago when I started running as a freshman, minus my awesome teammates, it was miserable. Prior to that year, I never ran anything other than the mile in gym class once a month, in around 9 minutes, and other than that was a less than stellar swimmer and softball player (for the record: if they put you in right center field every game for 3 years, that should tell you something), I jumped into cross country completely at random and every practice and every run was a struggle, to say nothing of the races (my first 5k was well over 30 minutes), but by the end of the first cross country season I knew I had found my niche. And it reminds me of my first mountain season a bit over a year ago where–because there is just something more burny and otherwise more excruciating about running straight up things versus just flat and fast–there was literally a point in every race where I was like “all you have to do is stop and it’ll all be over.” I literally remember telling myself on the start line of Mt. Washington in 2014, that there would be a point that I would really want to stop, and that I would get even more desperate to do so if I looked up and saw how damn steep it was and how much further there was to go, but no matter what I would not let myself, and I also remember the exact point in the race where that thought entered my mind and got pushed away, and once again, so worth it. And it reminded me of one the time I did let myself give in, and how I had never had a worse feeling in all my time running and how I had never been so disappointed in myself. And finally, during every setback that I’ve experienced in the last several years, particularly this last one, there are so many times I wanted to throw in the towel on all the stupid cross-training and tedious rehab, then picking myself up by my bootstraps and cautiously letting myself dream again, then slowly rebuilding running just to sometimes end up at the beginning again, and not to mention probably look like a complete moron from an outside perspective appearing to waste my time keeping on, but man life would be a whole lot less lifelike if I gave up the chase and gave in when the lows seem to outweigh the highs too often or for too long.
Circling back around, the same lesson apparently holds true for other challenges you decide to undertake in life. We all have our own “Mt. Washington’s” to conquer so to speak. And I have decided that right now, my “Mt. Washington”, is being out of my element and away from the people and things I care about in a different environment doing things I haven’t ever done and maybe feeling a bit of lost identity and feeling generally inept at pretty much everything. Even though it would be easy enough to call it a day and wouldn’t come at much of a cost to anything but my pride, it’s just something to keep grinding away at till I get out of it what I’m supposed to get out of it, whatever and whenever that may be, but which is not right now.
That’s just something I’ve been thinking about on long drives gallivanting across the south lately. The point of my exceptionally cheesy little rant here is that if I had to sum up one takeaway from running so far, it’s that it’s never not worth it to hang in there regardless of how slow the going seems and how uncomfortable it seems at the time. The discomfort is always finite, there is always a finish line, and it’s always worth it.