Monday, July 14, 2014

I run because I seek the amazing...

I was a film fanatic at an early age. I particularly gravitated towards action, fantasy, and science fiction films. These films always entail something bigger than life. On celluloid, people do amazing things, they see amazing things, and they experience the amazing. In the movies, 'amazing' is pretty much commonplace.

Indiana Jones barely manages to escape being crushed by an enormous boulder rolling towards him at the last second while poison arrows whiz by his head. Luke Skywalker closes his eyes, feels the force, and with a single shot from his X-wing fighter destroys the Death Star. Amazing is standard operating procedure in the movies.

A well done film allows you to escape into this alternate universe rife with the amazing for a couple hours. Sadly, these escapes are all too infrequent and all too brief. The credits roll, we reluctantly rise from our seats, and head home to a life that more often than not falls a bit short of amazing.

We resume our normal lives. We pay our bills. We make dinner. We ride the bus to our cubes or offices. We punch the clock. Deliver the project. Attend the meeting. Go home. Rinse and repeat. For most of us, day to day existence is mundane, repetitive, and at times...boring. How often is life really amazing?

There are those handful of moments in life that are generally characterized as amazing. Graduating from college. Buying a car. Getting married. Buying a home. Having a child. All of these are amazing experiences, but this is just a handful of experiences to last an entire lifetime.

I find myself bogged down in the mundane and decidedly unamazing sometimes. It's easy for this to happen as we are surrounded by it. It's woven into the fabric of our lives in an indelible way. When I find myself in this state, I do what I normally do....lace up my shoes and hit the road.

I don't have any illusions that running a few easy miles on the road is going to evolve into some kind of grand adventure, although it could. Nor do I necessarily think anything amazing is going to happen during my time outside, but it has on occasion.

Even the most glacial, plodding miles on my worst day serve as a reminder that running provides the opportunity to experience the amazing. The opportunity to run farther, to run faster, to travel somewhere you have never been before, or see something you've never seen before is always there.

More than twenty years ago, I ran ten miles for the first time. I still vividly recall completing this run and realizing that no one in my family had ever run ten miles. None of my friends had run ten miles. I didn't know anyone who had run ten miles. I realized that sometimes amazing things could happen when you ran.

Twenty plus years later, I trained for a fifty mile race and notched innumerable miles in the Marin Headlands. During one particularly lengthy death march, I was neck deep in marked fatigue and my quads were begging for mercy at every footstrike.

I was well into a serious climb that was well over a mile long. There should be some kind of rule that if a hill continues unabated for more than a mile, it's no longer a hill and it is simply considered a pain in the ass.

Mercifully, the crest of the hill arrived and took what little breath I had away. I could see San Francisco, the Transamerica building, and countless other landmarks.

I shifted my gaze left and could see the Bay Bridge, Oakland, and an endless procession of cars making their mundane commute. I had no illusion I was Indiana Jones or Luke Skywalker, but what I was seeing was simply amazing.

The amazing is out there just waiting to happen. It doesn't happen every time you head out and it never happens as often as you would like. But, those brief fleeting moments of amazing are what serve as reminders that there's no reason to settle for the mundane.

Amazing is always an option. I run because I seek the amazing...


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