Please welcome Joshua Pauley of Texas to our team of great people sharing with you on Endurance Buzz! Joshua has come from a background of fast-footed collegiate cross country running and is pursuing his passion of ultra running and will periodically share with us some lessons, revelations, reflections, and maybe a few black toenails along the way.
I had already run a large portion of my workout. It was a typical Saturday at White Rock Lake with people buzzing around on their bikes or on foot. At any given moment a wide range of people from doctors, to stay at home moms, to high school rowers can be found on the lake – and this day was no different…or at least I thought. The sun was out and I was feeling great twenty-five miles into the workout. With only five miles left it seemed as if the day was in the bag. I began going through my mental check-list of things I had to do for the day – Shower, eat breakfast, go to work, walk the dog, write, etc. Then, somewhere in between eating breakfast and doing laundry my legs began screaming.
I continued to run but after approaching the marathon mark I began fading. I stopped for a short minute to analyze the situation and take some fluids. I stood there wondering where I had messed up. I had been eating and drinking regularly. I was running by feel and had not pushed too hard early on. I had done everything flawlessly up until this point. I stood there and worked through my mental checklist. Pondering why I had blown a gasket.
The wind was picking up on the lake, people were zooming by on their bikes, and runners were trotting by. In this brief second my entire running career flashed before my eyes as I wondered how I had gotten myself twenty-six miles into this run and still four miles away from my car. I was heartbroken about the wall I had just hit – and I had no idea how to get around it. I had read the blogs. I had read the articles. But it is different once you are the one that gets hit in the face and you find yourself looking up at the big cylinder block wall.
As two women passed me pushing strollers and gossiping about their neighbor’s dog, I looked down at my Garmin 310 not expecting to see anything surprising. I was shocked at what I saw. The data on my watch said that I was killing my run! I was running faster this week than what I was the previous week at a shorter distance. This feeling was a lot like on Christmas morning, when as a kid you do not think you have any more presents left and you did not get what you had asked for. But then you see one more present hiding behind the tree and you know Santa was good to you. The data on my watch was that kind of surprise.
Then it hit me. The pain from fatigue is natural and will never go away no matter who you are. No matter how much you train. No matter how fast you can run. IT WILL NEVER GO AWAY. In a brief two minutes I was reminded of this on a January morning. Our bodies will do whatever it takes to survive and preserve itself and in this process our legs will tell our mind that we need to stop. Everyone who is working hard is hurting in some way. But there is good news – we do not have to listen to what our legs say to us. Just like Miley Cyrus always says, “We can’t stop. And we won’t stop.”
I think lessons like this learned while running is a big reason why people run. We all seek to learn these valuable lessons that can shed light on this meager pastime we call life. Sometimes things are going to be going great. And sometimes things around us will crumble. But if we just put our heads down and keep moving forward all will be well. It will hurt and it surely will not be easy. Life is a lot like mile twenty-six. But the pain only means we are alive.
I embraced the pain this day. And I took one more step forward. And then another one after that. And I ran out the remaining four miles with a smile to cover up the agony that was beginning to take its toll on my body. And that is what I will do from now on. One step forward. One step forward. One step forward…
Whether in running or in life we are going to get hit in the face and knocked down at some point in time. But what will we do? Will we cower down in fear? Or will we rise up to the occasion and do what it takes to move on towards better times? I learned on this day that I can keep moving forward – and we all can. As runners we must make this decision to keep moving forward. Because if we can make this decision our legs will surely tire – but our souls will become stronger than ever.
– Joshua Pauley
Posted on 23 Jan 2014
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