No Matter How Crazy It Looks

“As runners, we all go through many transitions — transitions that closely mimic the larger changes we experience in a lifetime. First, we try to run faster. Then we try to run harder. Then we learn to accept ourselves and our limitations, and at last, we can appreciate the true joy and meaning of running.” Amby Burfoot

Meditations in Motioin

There is a lake near my house that originally wasn’t a lake, then it was a lake, then it wasn’t, then it was a lake again.

Let me explain. Over 40 years ago, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources decided that installing a dam on Hammer Creek to create a lake for recreation would be a good idea.

The dam was constructed and the resulting lake was a relatively small one, good for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing.

Several years ago, flooding from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee caused irreparable damage to the dam. The lake was drained. Hammer Creek went back to something resembling its original state.

A local group called Save Speedwell Lake, however, raised over $6 million through donations and grants, enough to dredge the lake bed and rebuild the dam. The lake slowly filled once again and now there is a lake where there once wasn’t one, (then there was, then there wasn’t).

That’s a long backstory to describe the location of a run that my hubby Bill and I did with our friend Al last week.

Meditations in Motion

The roads around Speedwell are narrow, curvy, hilly country roads with very little traffic. There is a five-mile loop and a six-mile loop that we sometimes run around the lake. We opted for the longer loop and set out on a beautiful, sunny spring morning.

Each of us had just run a 10k road race the weekend before. Bill and I ran Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k in Richmond, Virginia and Al ran the Cherry Blossom 10k in Philadelphia with another running friend.

Now, Al and I are competitive. Yes, we compete with each other (we have always finished races with close to the same finishing times), but more generally, we like to do well in our respective age groups while racing.

Al is one age group older than me and of course, a different gender. He trains hard for specific races.

Al was the friend who convinced me to run The Hyner View Trail Challenge 25k last year, probably the most difficult race I have ever run. He ran it several times but not the year I participated. Each time he ran it, he traveled about 45 minutes north of our hometown to train on hillier terrain, running hill repeats over and over to simulate the never-ending hills in the race. He did several very long runs to improve his stamina.

My training for the race last year was more, um…relaxed. I did some trail running with Al before the race, and some fairly long runs, but nothing out of the ordinary. That may be why I believe it was the toughest race ever.

I don’t usually train with one race in mind. I go with a more general approach and train for the upcoming season. If I have a bunch of long races, I will do more long runs; if shorter races dominate my calendar, I will do more speedwork.

Last weekend, the from our respective races that were somewhat disappointing. I wrote in an earlier post about planning to run my 10k at a “comfortably hard” pace, not an all-out effort and that is exactly what I did. After the race, however, I was disappointed in my time and my age-group placement (11th out of 578). Al ran a slow 10k; he complained that his legs felt heavy and it just was not his day to race.

Meditations in MotionOur conversation turned to our thoughts about whether to work hard to try to maintain some modicum of speed as we get older or accept the fact that our aging bodies just can’t go as fast as they used to.

This is a subject on which I perpetually waffle. On one hand, I am extremely stubborn (as my hubby can attest to). I am not going to slow down without putting up some kind of a fight. I actually enjoy pushing myself on the track and on tempo runs (runs done at a speed that feels comfortably hard, for my non-running friends).

On the other hand, comparing my race times with those of 10, five, or even two years ago is a recipe for frustration and regret. It is better to accept my body the way it is right now and feel grateful I can run at all.

It’s hard to know when to hang on and when to let go. How do you know when to do which?

Meditations in Motion

I wrote in an earlier post about the benefits of having dreams, but letting go of an unrealistic dream is not easy. It almost feels like grief. We must do it in stages, the last of which is acceptance. Holding on to an unattainable dream can bring about anger, resentment, and feelings of failure.

When you no longer hold a dream in your heart, it is time to let go. You can’t force something to feel right when it is wrong.

The trick is to be able to distinguish between a dream and an expectation. Dreams are powerful, positive, uplifting. When a dream turns into an expectation, it weighs you down, it makes you dissatisfied. When a dream begins to feel like a chore, it is time to move on to a new dream.

So, where do I fall out on the conflict between accepting my limitations and pursuing some speed? That’s the great thing about running road races – you don’t have to make a choice.

While I will never hit the speeds I did in the past (this is one dream I must let go of), that’s what age groups are for. I am not competing with twenty-somethings; I am competing against other women my age, and I still want to be competitive among women my age (this is one dream I can stubbornly hang on to).

As long as competing doesn’t feel like a chore, and it doesn’t, I can hold on to that dream.

Al told me about a fun way to do speedwork on the roads – run fast between one set of telephone poles, then slowly between the next set and keep alternating for several miles. I think I will give that a try.

Meditations in Motion
Enter a captionBy TyrystorELO – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9883142

 

As the Electric Light Orchestra put it so well, “Hold on Tight to Your Dream“. You can give a listen here.

Go out and chase your dreams no matter how crazy it looks. – Shanice Williams

 

I am linking up with Running on the Fly and Confessions of a Mother Runner for their Weekly Rundown, Shank You Very Much for Dream Team and Global Blogging, Esme Salon for Senior Salon, Our World Tuesday, Kooky Runner for Tuesday Topics, Random-osity for The Good, The Random, The Fun, Purposeful Faith for RaRa, Meghan Weyerbacher for Tea and Word, Mary Geisen Tell His Story, Bethere2day for Wordless Wednesday on a Tuesday, Outdoorsy Mommy, Morgan’s Milieu for Post, Comment, Love, and My Random Musings for Anything Goes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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67 comments

  1. Al is essentially describing a fartlek & I do that all the time (usually using trees, though, so the spaces between are not so regular). It’s something I really enjoy so you should try it!

    I love your definition of holding on to a dream and letting go of an expectation. I’ve actually started a blog post (for a future date) mulling on a very similar subject. I’ll have to try & remember to put in a link to this post!

    Unfortunately for those of us truly unblessed by even a modicum of speed, the whole AG thing isn’t really terribly motivating either.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am also in a place where I am learning to accept that my body is aging and perhaps I cannot ever get back to my paces I used to do. I think for now I am ok w that and I am just focusing in keeping up the distances and being happy that I can still do that. Thanks for linking up

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love all your thoughts on this! I have always accepted that I’m not a super speedy runner…yes, I’ve had some fast-for-me finish times recently, but I know they will eventually taper back to my “normal” range. It’s been a gamble they have lasted this long through the season, actually. That said, it is a bit of a paradox. I’d love to be able to keep the momentum, far into the fall (ahem, MCM), but I know there’s a huge risk of injury and/or burnout if that would happen. Quite frankly, I enjoy the simple act of running too much to endanger that fondness by taking myself out of the game if my ego were to persevere (and leave me side-lined) LOL I know my body needs a reprieve, and I’d be doing it a major disservice not to oblige. Thanks for another great thought-provoking post, Laurie! Thanks for linking with us 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you, Kim. I don’t want to push it too far and not be able to run at all. I love the act of running too. You work really hard and know when to take some time off. I don’t think your faster times are a fluke. Thanks for hosting.

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  4. It’s hard not to compare times to lifetime PR’s; I have to keep trying not to compare my race times to pre-broken leg times myself…Just do the best I can for the day.

    Fartleks are a fun workout/way to break up a run! Great idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s like you and I are simpatico. I don’t mind slowing down as long as I can still be competitive in my age group! There is one woman here that is ridiculously fast—she beats the youngsters on a regular basis. If we count her out, that’s my competition. Where I am at right now…that’s another story. I want to keep running but…if it means slowing down, can I live with that?

    Stay tuned.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought the same thing as I read your blog post this week, Wendy. I want to be competitive in my age group. I have a local “nemesis” (who is actually a really nice woman) too! 🙂 I love the act of running. I can’t imagine ever giving it up voluntarily, even if I am finishing dead last. My injury taught me that – finishing last in my age group was still fun.

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  6. The question of when to let a dream fade — and, as you put it so well, determining the difference between a dream and an expectation — is probably a universal dilemma if we want to age consciously, whether or not we run (as we all know, I do not run unless someone with a weapon is chasing me, and then I’d put odds on the guy with the weapon). I’m stubborn too, in my way, and it’s a constant balance between refusing to give in and knowing when to let go. Guess which Kenny Rogers song is playing in my head right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Since I was never a fast runner to begin with, the age group awards don’t really appeal to me. I don’t think I’ll be running long distances forever, but if I can comfortably keep running as I get older, I’ll be happy with that. I’m all about the finish lines and not the finish times at this point.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I love running so much that even as I slow down I can’t imagine ever not doing it. Being injured taught me that even finishing dead last in my age group was fun.

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    • Exactly. An unrealistic dream will only cause frustration. Dreams that are able to be pursued are uplifting and positive. New dreams and ventures have always been appealing to me!

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    • The trick is to let go before something uplifting and positive turns into something frustrating and negative. I never know exactly what that point is, though!

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  8. I so relate to what you’re saying, Laurie. Do I want to just totally leave everything out there and not slow down, or pace myself and save some for later? We can apply that to so many things in life, not just our bodies. Hope you keep figuring out what works for you, friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I get this. And I get the grief. Maybe I haven’t quite been able to distinguish dream and expectation? I started running at 40 and was overweight. I’m never going to win anything. Well. Maybe when I’m 80 🙂 That said I still have dreams. I’m not ready to let go of them just yet. This is such a great post, Laurie, at the perfect time as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you will know when it is time to let go of your dreams, Renee. When they no longer bring you pleasure, it’s time. If they give you something to work toward, even if you never actually get “there”, hang on. I never ran a single race until I was 46, although I started running a little bit years earlier than that. Thank you for the comment!

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  10. Love your top quote!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I could have written this post…but not as eloquently.

    I still want to be faster and get disappointed when I don’t win an AG award.

    But I know that I am aging and I better accept those slower times.

    That’s what I love about running…we are only competing with ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Laurie, what wisdom you share here. 🙂 Your words are speaking to me. What you said here:
    “Dreams are powerful, positive, uplifting. When a dream turns into an expectation, it weighs you down, it makes you dissatisfied. When a dream begins to feel like a chore, it is time to move on to a new dream.” makes sense.

    I’ve had times when I allowed a dream to become an expectation and then it just became a big disappointment because I allowed it to morph from something that brought me pleasure to something that added unneeded pressure to my heart and spirit.

    I’m pondering your words, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. the most vivid example of this for me is my racing times. I had expectations that I failed to meet and allowed myself to be disappointed. You put it so well…something that was a joy in my life added pressure. Thank you, Jeanne!

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  12. I don’t know anything about running, but I do know about dreams. They are tricky and slippery and remind me of shape-shifters. Just when I think I know what it looks like, they change a bit and I need to figure them out all over again.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I was never a fast runner but I did write one time about how I used to run comfortable at 10:30 pace and now struggle with it. I am just living and running in the moment. No sense thinking about what used to be, but instead focus on how it is now.

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  14. It is hard to let go of your dreams Laurie but I think from reading your posts, you are very vibrant and your energy will take you far and you’ll be one of those runners that the news spotlights every so often: “90-year old still enjoys her daily 15-mile run!” Hope you and Bill made it back safely through the mountain pass and all that snow to Pennsylvania.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Glad to hear it Laurie – I said a little prayer you’d be okay in that dicey weather. Speaking of dicey weather, we’re having storms and I had settled in to get caught up in Reader, but that likely won’t happen tonight with all that rumbling out there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome Laurie. I am a weather worrier, so I felt for you making that journey.
        We have had stormy weather all night – I started to get off the computer, it subsided so I stayed on, but I think it is round 2 now. We have a 24-hour period of warmth coming in, then another bigger storm tomorrow, and back to the cold and chilly weather. Mother Nature has a bee in her bonnet!

        Liked by 1 person

  15. I feel like I could have written this post though you, of course, said it much more eloquently than I ever could. Knowing what dreams to hold onto, that are even possible anymore, is hard, as is letting go when the time comes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that tipping point is so difficult to find sometimes. I think as runners, we tend to hang on longer than most people would. We don’t like to give up!

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  16. This is a beautiful follow up to your post about “dreams”. I like how you described the difference between dreams and expectations. I have a great visual now when I think of expectations because they really do weigh you down. Thank you for sharing your “runs” and the lessons that result.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thought provoking concept. When is a dream unrealistic and when should you adjust your reality. Of course, I don’t think that means you have to give it up altogether. You are still running at a great speed and maintain your competitive and active nature. #outdoorsymommy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment, Lindsey. I guess only I can decide when one of my dreams is no longer realistic. It’s tough letting go of a dream, but sometimes I have to for my own mental health! 🙂

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  18. It’s hard being a competitive person AND dealing with getting slower as we get older, isn’t it? It’s especially frustrating no longer being able to keep up with my younger friends who I used to slow down for when we ran together…

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I love how you look for the positive in each life milestone. Yes, you may not be as fast – but you’re right in that you are competing within your age group and that’s your new target goal to beat. #GlobalBlogging

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