Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's Good to be Humbled

The best part about running is that it's a lot like life: sometimes things don't go as planned and frankly don't work out. It's unfortunate, but it's also what makes things interesting. We don't get the job we think is ideal, a relationship that seemed perfect suddenly isn't, careers sometimes get off track. It's trite, but we learn about ourselves during those moments.

That's the really difficult thing to face up to. For whatever reason, we don't like to talk much of failure, even though that's where we learn the most. I see it in my job. Companies always want to talk to me about the great successes they've had, yet not so much about the stuff that didn't work.

I've been running now for nine years. In that time, I've accomplished a fair amount, but come up short too. I went to the Boston Marathon in 2003 thinking I'd run under three hours. By the end of the race, after running the second half 30 minutes slower than the first, my goals had gone down to "don't be put in the wheelchair." At the finish, they tried. I've been dragged off the course twice because of dehydration, including comically crumpling 200 yards from the finish in Delaware. The Indy Marathon was a fiasco. I missed running under three hours by 74 seconds because I mentally choked and eased up. I bring these up because I try to accept failure as part of the deal. I'm OK with it so long as I learn from it and do the best I can. I try to apply this as much as I can to the other parts of my life.

This all sprang to mind watching an interview Ryan Hall gave at the Great Wall after finishing a disappointing 10th in the Olympic Marathon. Yes, being the 10th fastest runner in the world isn't exactly a sob story, but he went to Beijing -- and trained his ass off -- to win a medal. What's more, he didn't have a great run. It happens. I was impressed at how honest and level-headed he was about it. At about three minutes in the video, he's asked what he took away from the race. He laughs, then says, "It was good to be humbled."

14 miles, 1:51:08

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