Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Not So Lonesome Road

Wouldn't it be eye-opening to run a race where everyone had their biggest challenge printed on their shirt?

Life is a journey. We all start at the same place, we all end up the same place. This is not a new idea, but I see it as a path with three parts, (a thought that occupied my mind on my last run.)
One side of the path is a dark, slow moving, muddy stream where the couch potatoes bob along. The view stinks, it is hard to move ahead of the current, easy to fall into, and hard to get out of. Although it looks tranquil enough, below the surface lurk many unseen hazards. Branches, shopping carts, alligators, and rusted bear traps, all wait to snag someone and end their journey. However, it is full of company so people fool themselves into thinking it is a great place to travel. Heck, there are loads of friends and family in the stream and they will all share a chuckle with you when someone up on the road stumbles. They don't really want anyone to leave the stream either, so they pat each other on the back and continue on in ignorant bliss, believing they are in the safe zone. After all, you don't fall out of a stream!
Then there is the road. To those coasting along in the stream, it can seem like staying on the road is hard, but those up on the smooth surface know that once you get there, traveling is actually much easier, and the the view is fantastic. Up on the road, you see more of the world, enjoy more of the scenery, and share in the excitement of others on the road. Your speed picks up so that for the same amount of time, you cover much more ground and gain many more experiences.
The folks in the ditch point and say, "But you will step in a pothole!" not realizing they are stuck in one long, never ending pothole.
On the other side there is a ditch. It is more clear, but the sides can be steep; it is called injury. You fall into this ditch from pushing too hard or too fast, not paying attention to your body or your surroundings, and not following the instructions for how to stay on the road. Bad luck can also land you there with no fault of your own, but that isn't the way it usually happens.
People often leap out of the stream on one side, and careen wildly into the injury ditch on the other, and then back again. They never spend enough time on the road to know the joys of it. These people usually say, "There really isn't a road up there, you just end up right back here," and then proceed to prove it to those around them by showing their scars and damage to a willing audience.
Thankfully, for most people, the road is wide and forgiving. It gets narrower as we age, and serious injuries or illnesses can reduce it to a narrow tight rope, but tight rope walkers exist. Some times it is easy to spot a tightrope walker, they wear braces or prosthetics, have age weathered skin and the sense to wear a hat, or may be limping and swearing, but they refuse to let go and slide into the stream. Many tightrope walkers are harder to spot because they look like everyone else; cheerful, determined, slow or fast, but making their way down the road. They are the survivors of cancer, heart disease, depression, car wrecks, chronic illness, and more. They have overcome obstacles most will never know about but will eventually face. Th es potholes derail many, but not all.

So wouldn't it be interesting to run a race where everyone had their biggest challenge printed on their shirt? Wouldn't the people in the ditch be shocked to find out that those on the road aren't endowed with special superpowers, that they are pretty much like everyone else, with ups and downs, challenges and triumphs, good days and bad. The only thing that really separates those in the muddy stream from those on the the road is... something you have to find within yourself.

3 mile LSD run Thursday, average 70% MHR
Friday off
Saturday, all day at a festival
1 hour stationary bike Sunday, high RPM level 1
2 miles, 80% MHR Monday
1 hour stationary bike, level 4, Tuesday

1 comment:

Tanya said...

Wendy, this post was beautiful-what a nice analogy!
and 3 miles! Congratulations on your return to running!