I recently had to speak at a Runner’s Brunch with a few other speakers about my past year and the process of making my “Breakthrough.” Having to look back is always a fun and interesting experience but with this particular experience I was forced to be super critical and succinct in summing up the absolute core of how I made my breakthrough, what exactly was it that made the difference, why exactly did it happen.
I ended up writing this big speech that was a concoction of many of the posts I have made here over the past year and included all the details I felt were defining of how I remember the past year from my perspective. When it was all put together I came up with a 15 minute speech filled with everything I wanted to “preach” about as important to me. I was worried about presenting my findings because I knew it was way too long and detailed. At the brunch I sat beside a gentleman who was a part of the community running group in town and in the process of talking with him he made a very interesting point that “hey man you lived it, shoot from the hip, talk from the gut, if its genuine in meaning it doesn’t need to be detailed, just tell it like you remember it.” This made sense to me and so when it was finally my turn to speak I ended up deciding to scrap my entire speech and just wing it up there. Long story short the point I wanted to make was simple, I have mentioned it here on my blog before but I’ll give a quick re-iteration.
I’ve tried to figure out what made me so special? I thought about it and decided that there is really nothing inherently special about me, nothing about me as an individual is unique or extraordinary in any way… My “thing” is that I run, but lot of people run, I don’t feel I’m talented because there are far more gifted people than I, I work hard but plenty of people work harder, there just isn’t anything about me that sets me apart as more deserving of a breakthrough than anyone else. I’ve stood beside true greatness and realized how little we have in common, those people have everything I do not. Then I asked myself what I had that they didn’t and the answer to that is what I feel was the most defining feature of my breakthrough. The thing that I have, that sets me apart, that no one else has, was the people in my life, my Family, my training partners, my friends. Having all of them in my life is the only inherently special thing about me, nobody else has that, and when I raced that breakthrough night in, in my opinion, that, them, were the reason that something special happened to me. I used to think breakthroughs were about hard work and dedication, but for years I had been approaching it all wrong. I realize now the key to my breakthrough was being happy, full heartedly truly happy, something I had never fully achieved until now, I found a place that feels like home, I do the things that I enjoy with my time and I surround myself with people who inspire me. I never would have gotten anywhere worth going on my own but I got somewhere special I never expected to be because of all of them, that’s the way my breakthrough happened, and that’s the way it should be.
That is the just of what I talked about, I rambled and vomited out words semi-coherently about how all the people surrounding me each contributed in their own unique and meaningful way to inspiring me to aspire to emulate their greatness and believe that I could one day be just as awesome as they are. All in all me rambling about myself is ok once in a while but I also want to tell you about this other gentleman who spoke at the brunch and blew me away with his awesome story.
This guy Dean, is an older runner who runs with the community group. Maybe something around 50 years old? (Sorry if you find this Dean, you’re still 20 at heart!) Well he didn’t talk so much about a breakthrough so much as about not having one. He spoke about how he aspires to run sub 19 in a 5k and how over the past year he tried several times and failed each and every time. This guy was so modest about his awesomeness talking so intimately about how gut wrenching his failures were that I wanted to go up and give him a big bro hug and tell him how much I understand exactly what he was talking about. People look at me now like im some sort of great runner who only knows how to be good but that is so so wrong. Me and this guy Dean are so much alike. I’ve wanted to run 3:45 for years, it took me failing miserably for seven years to finally do it. Failure and I are close friends; we spend a lot of intimate moments together and I am defined by those failures not my one success. By all “Common” and “traditional” macho societal standards this guy Dean is not a runner, not an athlete, not a success story, and even if he broke 19 minutes on paper he would still be considered nothing special. That’s so fucked! (sorry but the moment called for the language). Dean is a badass, he has zero potential for athletics but he perseveres anyways, he will break 19 minutes and when he does it wont be ability, it will be done based solely on his will and strength of character. It’s all relative, me running 19 minutes for 5k isn’t impressive, me running 15 minutes for 5k isn’t impressive because I have the inherent potential to do that, but me running sub 14 for 5k? That’s impressive because I’m not that inherently capable of it, so if I found it within myself to run that fast then that’s awesome. Dean “completing” a 5k isn’t impressive, Dean running 30 minutes for 5k isn’t impressive because he has the ability to do those things, but Dean running sub 19 for 5k? That’s impressive because he’s not that inherently capable of it, so if he found it within himself to run that fast then that’s awesome. It’s all relative, and long ramble short, Dean is one of the most inspiring runners I have ever met, he is a badass, and while he obviously has my support in his journey to his goal, I don’t really feel he needs it because since he persevered this far, I have no doubt his breakthrough is overdue, but certainly on its way.
Posted on Sunday, October 6th 2013