Monday, July 3, 2017

Running with Aria

Yesterday I was running with Aria, baking in the sun, my body complaining at me. It was her longest run ever, and rather than succumbing to my body's screaming desire for rest, I joined her on her epic adventure. I told her I had to write a post on my blog but that I wasn't sure what to write about.

"You should write how your bicycled for 6 hours on the stationary bike Saturday, and then ran 16 miles with me today," she suggested.

"Well it's not really about showing off. I can't just write that and nothing else. I need some context," I replied, meaning that I needed an "excuse" to boast. I mean, it is my blog, but still.

"Well then write about never giving up. Being strong and always pushing forward."

"I'm pretty sure I say that in every post."

Aria's training for Wineglass marathon. It'll be her first marathon! It'll be my third time doing it. Unlike me though, Aria's got an actual coach: Her father Geoffrey! And he's awesome. And this year it's going to be a massive LUNAR (Lace up Now and Run) reunion, which is explosively exciting.

"How many marathons have you done?" She asked.

"9? I think?" I answered, counting on my fingers," including my solo marathon on New Years." Aria looked suitably impressed.

"What was that like?"

"Long. But it was nice. Just me and the snow, and moonlight reflecting off the eyes of wild animals."

"Aaugh, I don't think I could deal with that," she replied, referring to the nightlife. I shrugged. I told her I did it with no food and water. She said I was an idiot.

"What? It's not like I sweat much. But yes, I am very dumb. For example I'm running 16 miles with you right now even though I'm totally broken."

Dangerous wildlife.

I explained to her the psychology of running. That, yes, you train the body. But even more so, you train the mind. That every time you run, you teach your brain that you can handle a little more. Most of our limitations are imposed by our brains. And every time you do a longer or harder run, your mind says, "hmm, ok, I can handle that." And you push a little more the next time.

Eventually our conversation fell away and was replaced by miles of huffing and puffing. It was hot. I had told Aria that, doing my training for the Ironman, these long runs no longer seemed that big a deal. I ran 20 miles the previous weekend, and told her it felt... short. She didn't believe me. Maybe that was just a fluke though, because I was definitely feeling every single mile of these 16.

There was a time when I was in her shoes, where I was pushing my mileage, training for my first marathon (Wineglass #1 incidentally). Well, not counting Lake Placid, which I prefer to sweep under the rug. There was a time when even 1 mile was hard for me. This led me into a story about my dogs, who got me into running.

Aria's got a much better start than I did. She's serious and dedicated. She's following an actual training plan. I told her how amazing it is that she's doing that at 23. It took me until my 30's before I buckled down and became a grown up. She's got a drive and purpose that I was sorely lacking at her age. 23 is when I started drinking and partying, and it went downhill from there.
This is what I was doing in my 20's.
Boy, that's embarrassing. Just, really embarrassing.

A lot of the folks on LUNAR are older. They're parents. They have careers. They're put-together. And that's awesome. Because for them to balance a crazy training schedule with their busy lives is nigh-unbelievable. For a lot of people, I think they took the responsibility they learned from working, raising kids, and maintaining a household, and applied it to running.

But for Aria, this is something she just decided to do. At the risk of sound like a jerk, she's in the position of a lot of 20-somethings. She's not sure what her place in life is yet, what she wants to do, where she's going to end up. She's a great person with lots of options, but having too many options can be paralyzing. A lot of youngsters are raised with delusions about being "whatever they want" and end up being nothing for a long time.

Running though is a fantastic focus. It trains your mind, your body, and your spirit. It strengthens you in a way that few other things do. It teaches you to pick a single goal that matters to you, and to work your a$$ off every day to achieve it. You're not taught that in school. It's a lesson you learn on your own, often late (as was the case with me).

And thanks to that lesson I'm a
happy and healthy human being!

And on top of that, you join an incredible community. With today's addiction to electronics and social media, many have lost that sense of closeness and connection. To see Aria training hard and sharing her successes and challenges with like-minded people who are all equally passionate (= crazy) is incredible.

I'm really proud of her, super impressed, and excited for her future. I'll keep tagging along on her runs while I can, so I can leach off some of the joy and excitement of running for the first time. To remind myself why I got into all of this in the first place. And to remind myself what I've accomplished. Here's to Aria and all the other runners. Keep going! And don't mind the glowing eyes in the dark!

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