January 19, 2012

What is success?

I will succeed. That was my yoga mantra today. Finally made it out to a class today, and I feel so much better, especially since I had a kitchen sink injury from yesterday. While standing at the sink doing a naughty-sized load of dirty dishes, I locked my leg out too hard which strained my knee and made it feel sore for the rest of the day and this morning. It makes sense that I can run 50+ miles a week and not get injured, but standing at the sink strips my knee. It's very clear what needs to be sacrificed here. Sorry, dishes.
I wish my hair looked so fancy during yoga. Or I'd settle for looking like it had been washed in the last week. (Source)
The yoga must have unkinked whatever was discombobulated in the knee because now things are fine and dandy in the knee region, and I gained some mental clarity during relaxation. I have been struggling with the fact that my family won't be at the race this weekend. During my last race, knowing that they would be there at the end propelled me forward along several challenging stretches, and seeing them along the route gave me boosts of energy and happiness to balance out my foggy, will-I-survive-this thoughts. I definitely want to survive this weekend, but I'd like to do a step better. I'd like to succeed. Hence my yoga mantra: I will succeed. 

What will success be? There are always layers of success. Making it to the start line is one layer. Crossing the finish is another. I have also envisioned other possible successes. Matching my time from the last marathon would be a success. Running a sub-4 marathon would be a success. Hitting my goal pace, 8:20, would be a success. Boston qualifying would be the uppermost and most unlikely success of this race. 

Having only run one other marathon in November, it's hard to really know well enough what to expect from myself. Will my new training style really improve my performance in a measurable way? Am I running a marathon again too soon? I'm hoping to surprise myself in a good way, but it could turn out opposite of that. 

A long time ago, I decided that I was going to serve a mission for my church. Once you submit your application to be a missionary, you have no control over where you will spend the next year and a half. Someone else decides all of the details, and you just agree that you are in for whatever is placed before you. When I submitted that application, I had to know for sure that I was in, no matter where I got asked to serve. 

The number one place I did not want to be was Russia. I had just come home from a stint in Moscow teaching English, and it was a cold and often unfriendly city. I saw things on the metro that I wish I had never seen, and people called me a little boy the whole time I was there because I brought a military-style jacket to wear in the snow. The history of the country is fascinating, but the weather and everyday hardness of that city made me disinclined to spend a lot more time there. 

Of course, I got asked to go to Russia on my mission. Of course. But before I even opened the letter with the news, I knew that wherever it was, I was all in. I had come to terms with going to Russia, or anywhere else in the world, because the point wasn't where I was going but why. I was going to stand for something I believed in and help anyone I could in the process. 

I feel the same about this race. No matter what the result, I'm all in. Just showing up and believing that anything is possible is a success. Just being able to use the talents that God gives us is a success. If you had told me a year and a half ago that I would be running my second marathon this weekend, I would have punched you (lightly) in the arm and laughed for 100 minutes. I've succeeded in living a dream that I scribbled on a piece of paper when I was 12 years old. I have succeeded, and I will succeed.