I’m only racing once this year. I might pop into a few races here and there, as I did with Boston, but I’m only racing the Leadville 100. It’s a goal I’ve had for a long time, so I wanted to give it the attention I thought it deserved.
Training started slow, but in the past couple of months, it has gone as well as could be expected. I know that I am a significantly better runner than I was a year, or even six months, ago. I have lots of evidence to support that statement stored in my fancy little Garmin watch. But as I am only racing once, I occasionally wonder what would happen if I were to fall short of the goal, the big buckle, or, God forbid, fail to finish for some reason.
There would be nothing to show, outside of my watch and my memories, for the time I’ve put into this crazy race. And at 50 hours-plus a month over the course of many months, that's a lot of damned time.
I know there are some who say that you never consider the possibility of failure. But I like to consider the full spectrum of possibilities in any endeavor. And so it is with Leadville.
Here’s what I’ve concluded:
Life isn’t about getting what you want, or achieving a goal, or even finding happiness. It’s about the process you go about in search of any or all of those things. Once you achieve a goal, no matter how important or consequential the goal may have been, you are still the same person you were before you achieved the goal. You still have the same feisty human neurochemistry. You may not have the same goals and dreams that you had before you achieved your goal, but you still have the same instinct to pursue a goal that you always had.
If you ignore that human instinct that needs the pursuit of a dream after you achieve your goal, you may end up less happy after achieving a goal than you were before you achieved it. I'm not saying you shouldn't have goals. You absolutely should. And you should use relentless dogged determination to achieve them. But ultimately, what’s important isn’t the goal itself, but rather the process you go through in pursuit of the goal.
And so, while I’m tingling with anticipation at the prospect of achieving a goal I’ve had since I was stage-diving at Fishbone concerts as a teenager, I know that all this training, all this time, and all this energy isn’t just about running 100 miles in the mountains in 20-some hours this August. The training and growth is the end-all of this experience. And the race is just the party where we will celebrate having done it.But, that said, I still want that effing buckle.