The Race You Don’t Want to Win

 The Race You Don’t Want to Win

We find ourselves in the midst of the holiday season caught up in everything that comes with it: exchanging gifts, attending parties, sitting in traffic, mounting stress, crazed shopping, and more. However, with each passing year it seems the season is losing its “magic”. I have heard many phrases this holiday season that are almost as common as “Happy Holidays”, “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Hanukkah”, etc but the phrases I am hearing are of a different nature. I have heard an alarming amount of “can’t wait for this to be over”, “if I can just get through the holidays”, “just make it to the end”, and other similar sayings.

The Race You Don’t Want to Win

Hearing these sentiments is disheartening and also reminds me of how often I hear similar thoughts about running. I hear things such as “just get to the finish”, “when will this be over?”, and other phrases that imply the act is a chore. Too often we as runners get focused on the end result and forget to enjoy the process of training or a race while it is going on. I have found it is far easier when running to simply enjoy the experience, the crowds, the course, etc as opposed to dredging through telling yourself X amount of miles to the finish. It is important to focus on your goal time and finishing, but it is also just as important to savor the experience.

My solution for the disenchantment in the season and in running is to turn to those who are pure of heart, children. Think back to when you were a kid when everything was magical and exciting. The holiday season was looked forward to all year as it was special and cherished. As a child you lived for moments such as the joy you see on another’s face when you give them a gift, the excitement of seeing Santa for the first time, being unable to sleep the night before Christmas, and family get togethers with loved ones. If you look around, you can still see this same magic in the eyes and actions of children. To the same tune, running was looked forward to every day as a child. It was disguised as chasing friends around at recess on the school playground, TV tag on a summer night, capture the flag in the backyard, and other fun games. However, it was not thought of running, it was just “play”.

My challenge to you this week is simple. Take in your surroundings during the rest of the holiday season and during your runs. Make a concerted effort to enjoy them for everything they are. See all the amazing aspects of both as it is a wondrous time of year and running still is and always will be a great way to just “play”. Remember that in life there are races that you don’t want to win. The race to the “end” of the holiday season offers no reward and can leave one with feelings of regret. Similarly, dredging through races and training plans can leave one with empty, uninspired victories and finishes. I hope this post finds you all well and may you and yours have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Quote  – “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” – Steve Prefontaine

Every one of you reading this is human and because of that you are all united on many levels, many of which you do not often realize. Each one of us has our own version of reality as we go about our lives looking to fulfill the destiny that we have set in our minds. This destiny involves goals in athletics, career, personal, family, and many other areas. However, many of you, self-included, are on some level afraid of these goals. You’re afraid of what it will take to achieve them, what will happen if you fail, and may wonder if you’re worthy of these goals. You wonder why should it be you that gets all that you want in life?

The Race You Don’t Want to Win

However, the question should be WHY NOT YOU? Who’s to say you’re unworthy and undeserving of getting all that you want in this life? Who’s to say you can’t be the next Steve Prefontaine, Grete Waitz, President, Gandhi, Olympian, CEO, life-changing philanthropist, or whatever it is you desire? Our self-perceived shortcomings often hold us back from achieving our goals when they are simply that, self-perceived. Every single person is a human being who believes they have flaws, has something they don’t like about themselves, and is battling some type of internal struggle. The key is to be enlightened by this simple fact and realize that it’s just a matter of taking that leap of faith to see what you’re worth, go beyond your limits, and fulfill the destiny that you have developed in your own mind.

Everything in this post up to this point is a great starting point, but it is simply that. You have only started to answer the question, why not YOU? My challenge for you this week is to actually take action towards achieving your life goals. I want you to write your  goals down on paper because when you write something down on paper, it is a promise to yourself. I want you to take it one step further though. I want you to comment at the end of this post what your goals are and then again how you have started to take action towards them. I’m going to follow up with you to make sure you are holding that promise to yourself, to me, and to the readers of this blog. I’m in this with you so this week here is what I promise to do: Personal Goal – introducing myself to everyone at this weekend’s parties and events, further expanding my network. Running Goal – 2 high intensity speed workouts (3 mile repeats, fast paced 5 mile tempo run) to chase my sub 2:30 marathon goal. Career Goal – putting the pen to paper for my first motivational speech brainstorm.

It is a simple fact that you only get a certain amount of time on this earth. I find it best to follow a similar mentality to Steve Jobs when scared of going after something. I tell myself I’m going to be dead in 70-ish years, so why not just take every chance I get? I challenge you to go after that PR, perhaps embark on your first run, ask out the cute girl/guy, chase your career dreams, and dare to risk it all whatever that may mean for you. Our video this week puts it well: “There are no second chances…Every one of these moments is a test that you get to take one time, and only one time. So if you see an opening tear into it. If you get a shot at victory make damn sure you take it. Seize that moment. That moment is a cross roads where everything you want will collide with everything standing in your way.” Don’t forget to post your goals in the comment section, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing so. Everything you desire is within your grasp, you just have to be willing to go after it and fight for it.

Quote – “Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs

So I begin the pilot post of this blog with a heavy heart and a story that is close to me right now. It starts with explaining to you who my sister, Tara McPheron, really is. Tara is the glue that holds the McPheron family together. She is the best friend you always want by your side and is there when it matters most. Whenever you are sick or hurt she is the first to call and to send a card. She constantly shows her love for others and you could not ask for a better person. Tara, like many of you reading this, is a runner. She was not always a runner but has found it to be a passion of hers over the past few years. Lately she has been getting really into it and decided she would begin training for her first Half Marathon (Pittsburgh) in May with her boyfriend, Keith.

The Race You Don’t Want to Win

Tara required surgery on her ankle recently so she could hopefully run pain free. The surgery seemed to go well enough until a few days ago, when blood clots were discovered in her legs. She was taken to the doctors and put on blood thinners and bed rest for the rest of 2011. She will more than likely not be able to run for several months now as opposed to a few weeks off. Blood clots are scary as they can lead to life-threatening issues but Tara’s spirit is untouchable and we refuse to believe the clots won’t disappear in the near future.

Her spirit is the spirit that every runner should strive to develop in their running and their life. I know that she will come out of this even stronger and as Mumford and Sons says “find strength in pain”. She has the Winston Churchill attitude of “never give in, never give in”. The situation reminds me that running truly is a privilege. Running is not a have-to sport, it is a get-to sport. On your runs this week, run for those who can’t right now, those who never have, and those who never will get a chance to. I have two challenges for you this week. The first is to be thankful for each of your runs and tell yourself everyday that you “get to” run, not that you “have to” run today. Embrace it. It truly is a beautiful gift. The second is if you are fortunate enough to have someone like Tara in your life, tell them thank you and that you appreciate all they do, they deserve it.

Quote – “Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in”. – Winston Churchill

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