One of the best pieces of advice I received while I was training for my first marathon was, “make sure you have a backup race… just in case.”
It was the spring of 2008 and I was training hard for my first marathon in Vancouver, British Columbia. Everything was going better than expected and I was feeling great. In addition to that, my wife and I were going to use our time in Vancouver to visit family and tour one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But as luck would have it, a month before the day of the race I received notice that I was scheduled to have an interview that very same weekend in San Francisco. This was an interview I had been waiting for for 5 years and had invested a lot of time and money to prepare for. There was no way I was going to miss this interview.
Which left me with a dilemma… what was I going to do about all this marathon training that I had spent months doing? As anyone who has run a marathon knows, the training requires major changes to your life for months. Every Saturday morning was completely devoted to running, Friday nights were spent preparing and going to bed early, I was tired a lot, my diet was different, there was a lot more stiffness and soreness, and all my non-running friends thought I was weird.
But thankfully I had taken my friend’s advice and I had a backup plan. Registration was still open for a local trail marathon 2 weeks after Vancouver. So I signed up. Although I had studied every kilometer, every hill, every aid station and every landmark on the Vancouver course, I knew nothing about this local race. All I knew was that it was on a trail, it was cheap, it looked fun, and I was free that weekend. So, on Saturday, June 7, 2008 I laced up my Mizunos and drove to the Santa Cruz redwoods to run the Forest of Nisene Marks Marathon.
I could write for hours about the events of that day, but to briefly sum up the experience... it was AMAZING. I did so much better than I expected, I was happy and I felt fantastic.
Just recently, I have had to relive the events of that spring. I have spent most of this summer preparing for my next big run in the fall. My training has gone well and I’ve been feeling pretty good. This race has been the main running focus of my entire year. But things beyond my control have caused me to have to readjust my running plans and I won’t be able to participate in this race this fall.
But that’s ok, because I’m realizing that there are other exciting opportunities that I doubt I would have seen otherwise. I’m excited as I explore different “backup” events to do this fall. I can’t wait to go back to California this winter with the Fleet Feet Destination Marathon group, and I’ve started dreaming about possibilities for my next big adventure next spring (perhaps mountains!).
Which got me thinking… one great quality I’ve noticed in runners and endurance athletes is that they are extremely focused and dedicated. But we need to make sure that we don’t become so focused that we lose the ability to see other possibilities around us... especially since we are not ultimately in control of every aspect of our lives. I’m learning to be flexible and to enjoy all of the amazing blessings in my life.