May 11, 2013

On wanting to quit

El Cabrero has been a terribly inconsistent blogger lately. I think I've been running around too much.

Speaking of running around, today was a case in point. I've had a 15K run planned for some months, although I can't say I was looking forward to it. The race in question is the Poca River Run, which touts itself as West Virginia's oldest road running race.

It is a pretty 9.3 mile course along the river, which today was swollen from recent rain storms, including a fresh one that soaked me on the last few miles. I've gone farther on harder courses. For some reason though, running this one brings out the wimp in me. This year as last I wanted to quit just about as soon as I started. Everything seemed to hurt and go wrong for the first mile or two. It didn't get a whole lot better after that.

My back hurt. My lungs hurt. I had a bad pain in one heel from what turned out to be a hole in my sock. It's the kind of thing you can put up with for a good while but it would have really caused problems on a longer run. There were other aches and pains. But misery morphed into plain old discomfort as the miles ticked away.

I think one of the great gifts of endurance sports is just that. You learn to endure. You learn to watch pain and discomfort the way Buddhists do in vipassana or mindfulness meditation. Like everything else, pain is an impermanent thing. If you watch it, it doesn't usually stay the same. Sometimes it gets worse, sometimes better and sometimes it just migrates somewhere else.

You also learn not to obsess about the whole thing but rather take it one mile at a time. There seems to be some evidence for that thesis anyhow.

That reminds me of the statistics classes I took in graduate school, another endurance feat that I only managed to survive by making my teacher laugh and go off on lengthy tangents. On every test, one question persisted and it gave good advice for working through problems:

Q. How do you eat an elephant?
A. One bite at a time.

JUST ONE MORE LINK. It's about former Massey CEO Don Blankenship's long delayed rendezvous with justice.


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