Sunday, January 2, 2011

Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise

This first post of 2011 involves looking back in order to be able to look forward.  The title (admittedly a tad more melancholy than necessary) is the name of a song by one of my new favorite artists, The Avett Brothers.  They make rocking bluesy alternative folk music that boasts some of the most poignant lyrics I've heard in ages.

For me, the song's title couplet essentially distills 2010/2011 into eight words.  Last year seemed to involve a head full of doubt.  Still, despite that chronic hindrance (and some physical ailments, too), I managed to log 2860+ miles, run five full marathons and help a multiple world champion ultrarunner break a 100-mile race course record in 90-degree temps.  I also met some amazing people, and established some close new friendships.  Still, I raced with a pervasive lack of confidence, fueled by GI woes, hip problems and - undeniably - a lack of mental toughness when it came time to pin on a numbered bib.

But I realize that the 55 miles per week which I averaged for the year are - as they say - "in the bank."  I gained racing experience, including up-and-personal observations of a world-class competitor.  I also managed to get through a major career change, the death of my father and other personal challenges.

The entire song (and album) is worth a listen (or a hundred), but here's the most running-specific quatrain as I ponder 2011:
There was a dream and one day I could see it
Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it
And there was a kid with a head full of doubt
So I’ll scream til I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out

So, with a 50+K, then Boston, then Tough Mudder New England, then a 50-Miler (TBD) and then - hopefully, running gods willing - a stab at a sub-3-hour marathon in the late fall (when the weather is more predictable than it tends to be, say, on Columbus Day weekend in Chicago) on the 2011 Running To-Do List, my plate is Thanksgiving Day full. Yet, I have to remind myself that I am still a relatively new (if not young) runner, with only three years of consistent mileage behind me, and clearly not laden with abundant natural talent or the most killer inborn racing instinct. 2011 thus brings a Road (and Trail?) Full of Promise.

Of course, many challenges and obstacles remain, but I have a strong sense that I am poised for a breakthrough year.  In terms of running, those breakthroughs will reflect on the clock.  In terms of life, we'll just have to wait and see.  With that in mind, the Avett Brothers offer this useful missive:

When you're loved by someone, you're never rejected
Decide what to be and go be it.

A Happy, Healthy and Successful (as defined on your own terms) New Year to all.

Thanks for reading. -ESG/Ron


Elizabeth said...

I totally agree that all your hard work in 2010 will payoff big time this year. Looking forward to reading about it!

AKA Darkwave, AKA Anarcha, AKA Cris. said...

So, are you going to get a tough mudder tattoo? :)

That race just power to you.

Girl In Motion said...

OMG, what a gorgeous song. Thank you for that. As for your year, you are owed! Yes, I fully believe that you are young at the sport (me too!) and that despite our impatience, there are wonderful things yet to come.

When you think about it, it takes Elites way more than 3 or 4 years to become their finest, so why do we expect so much so soon? Doesn't make sense, does it? :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for introducing me to some new music I really like!

And here's to a great 2011 for both of us. I think you accomplished a lot despite setbacks, and that will carry forward.