Nobody likes to fail. Our human minds are set up to remember our failures, so why would we do something at which we are unlikely to succeed?
The better question is how are we to really know we have done all that we can if we never push ourselves to the point of failure? The problem with failure is the ease with which we see it as an end rather than a measuring stick used for future endeavors to expand our abilities. It is OK to fail so long as we have done all we could at the time.
I still love Samuel Beckett’s “Ever Tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail Again. Fail Better.”
It is with this mindset that I set out on my attempt to run my second half marathon on a beautiful June Saturday morning at Yellowstone. I have to admit, I had many doubts about my ability to complete the race. I had not run that far in two and a half years. I had a stomach virus hit me very hard on Thursday night leaving me dealing with having shit the bed four times until finally, there was just nothing left. I had not had an MS treatment for 2 months as I continued through the washout period needed to switch meds. Finally there were the two reasons my wife gifted me with the trip in the first place: I turned forty and have had MS for ten years.
As I sat there Friday morning thinking about this list of reasons to fail, I realized these are excuses, and we all have excuses. The question is whether those should stop me from trying. I showered for the fourth time that night, drank some more water and went to bed wondering if my stomach would keep me from an item on my bucket list, seeing Old Faithful. Thankfully, my body did what it normally does to viruses; hit it with a tactical nuke. After a dreadful evening, I went downstairs and bought a Gatorade to be followed by 2 more in short order. Then I went with T, my brother in law, to continue sight seeing in Yellowstone for a third day where we got to see Old Faithful along with many of the other cool geysers, springs and pools.
On day four of our trip, I got up and ran the half marathon. I worried about whether I would be able to finish the 13-mile run at altitudes of 6,000 feet to 6,850 feet, especially when I fell twice in mile 10 because foot drop and a long run over very uneven terrain can do that to me. Still, I finished in 906th place. When I shared the results with my kids, they started to commiserate as if it was sad so many people were faster than I. I told them over 2,700 people finished the race, and I was in the top third of all finishers. I am anything but disappointed with the finish. I meant it when I started, and I mean it now. The challenge was for me to finish, not to finish faster than anyone else. Two hours and twenty-four minutes after I crossed the start line, I succeeded. It was a beautiful trip, and a great reminder that 40 & 10 are just numbers. They are just another measurement of time, and not the most meaningful ones at that.
Thank you T and J for a wonderful trip complete with great memories. I needed the break from reality, and my self esteem needed the half marathon attempt.
I got a lot of great photos on the trip, and I will create a page with just those in the next few days.