“5 o’clock” coach Behm yelled as we were huddled up in a circle near the high jump mats. That was our cue to run for ten minutes in order to warm-up for track practice. I was indifferent about this and had no particular affinity for running and thus I can remember very little of my first few miles. However, once we lined up on the track and started running some 400’s I wanted to be in the top group. It did not take me long to realize that in order to be in the top group of runners that I had to run. Utilizing my fifteen year old deductive reasoning, I assumed the further I ran, the better I would be. That same thought process has defined my existence for the past decade.
Obviously other factors come into play, in order to be the best, you must train the smartest not the hardest. Therefore, my reasoning was flawed; simply running as far as I could was not the answer to maximizing my potential. However, from a young age I was fascinated by the idea of pushing my body and running long distances. This fascination even transcended my desire to win. It just so happened that running a lot of miles and running them quickly seemed to improve my overall place on the results sheet.
I have been gridding out mileage calendars and recording race data since the very beginning. I liked analyzing my data almost as much as actually running the miles. At times keeping meticulous track of my mileage has taken the fun out of running. Along the same lines, competition has also taken the fun of running (when I’m losing). In college, running was essentially my job, requiring every ounce of my energy and leaving little time for anything else. I have experienced long burn out phases and lost my desire to compete, but I have never lost the desire to run.
It may seem like a ridiculous concept, I mean there is no point to my running. I am not persistence hunting, I am not making any money, I am probably putting too much stress on my body, I am diverting my attention from my education, and I am not enhancing society any anyway shape or form. BUT then I consider my alternatives, perhaps my time would be better spent cruising the internet, or playing some video game in dimly lit family room, or lying on the couch watching television and eating ice cream.
Then I realize, my running does not have to serve a purpose or make sense to other people. Most of the things we do in life may be perceived as pointless to others and that is okay; as long as we find purpose and meaning in our own pursuits in life. Success, much like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
I have run 29,989.00 miles in my life time, thats roughly 24,000,000 steps totaling 270,000 minutes of my life. I have run enough to circle the glob 1 and 1/5 times and yet I have never left the United States (I suppose Niagara Falls counts). Even though the bulk of my miles have been on the same roads and same trails I feel a since of gratitude each day that I get an opportunity to run them again. Each step I take is a step closer to my goal. Whether that goal be a pending race or my quest to reach 100,000 miles, it is one step closer.
I have ran with some amazing people, I have strengthened friendships, reasoned through problems, and discussed future plans. I have experienced moments of great triumph and agonizing defeat. I have overcome obstacles, hit the wall, and learned life lessons. I have seen beautiful secluded places both a mile down the road and two miles into the clouds. Some may see it as 270,000 wasted minutes but I see it as some of the most important and precious moments of my life.
30,000 is just an arbitrary number; I have probably miscounted and made an error somewhere, or my GPS may have received poor satellite reception, or the United States may convert to the metric system, making my feat today very anticlimactic. But ultimately, turning over 30,000 miles today will symbolize to me something that I have worked diligently toward nearly everyday for a decade and will continue to work toward until my legs no longer function.
Thank you to everyone that has supported me thus far in my quest toward the pointless, frivolous, and painstaking effort of reaching 100,000+ miles in my lifetime. With that said, I am off to reach the mere checkpoint of 30,000…