Sunday, November 07, 2010

Some lessons are subtle...

...and others not so much! So I was out running yesterday, on "my trail" again, and I was just losing myself. I wasn't really focused on anything and was marveling at how the trail looked so different than just 2 weeks earlier because the leaves had fa... WHAM!!! Down goes Joel. Down goes Joel. I tumbled "a-- over tea kettle" and lost my glasses. Knee scrapped and bruised, hand bleeding a little, toe sore, I crawled around on all fours like Thelma of Scooby-Doo fame, feeling the dirt for my glasses in the leaves. I know for a fact I let at least one MF'r drop. And then I started laughing. Hello there, that's just one of the many ways trail running is different; there are tree roots!

The incident was also a not so subtle reminder of one of life's lessons: you need to be able to pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and get yourself moving again because sometimes you truly are all alone. And if you are wondering, I kept going. Once I started again I began remembering the first time I took a similar digger in a cross-country race. I remember seeing the whole pack just cruise on by me. I was muddy, had my pride bruised, but was otherwise okay. However I spent the rest of the race running below my ability because I was feeling sorry for myself. I don't recall exactly, but that lack luster result may have ended in one of the two demotions from the varsity that I would endure during my career. No folks, I was not yet the athlete I am now.

I ended up running the whole route yesterday and actually crushed my times on the same route posted two weeks earlier, all because I decided to keep going even when there was nobody there to know if I quit or not. I knew, and that's all it took. This morning my knee aches a little, but no big thing. The scrape on my hand has scabbed over. My left big toe is a bit tender, but all in all I feel pretty darn good.

There you have it, another life lesson learned on the trails. Before I finish though I think I need to stress a corollary to this lesson. In truth I think quite a few people do understand that in life you need to be able to rely on yourself to make it through adversity because sometimes there is nobody there to help. But the corollary is that sometimes other people are there, and if they offer help freely you need to learn to accept it. It turns out this is harder for some people than you'd think. It was harder for me, that's for sure. However accepting the help makes experiences far more meaningful because now you've shared them with another person, a person you can forever call friend.

PS: Here are the numbers from the two runs
October 24
November 6

PPS: Notice the two breaks in pace on Nov. 6, at mile 2 and at mile 4.4. The first was the digger. The second as a close encounter with a cow that had escaped its pasture and the irate farmer who was "chasing" it. For the record he was swearing way more than I!