Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Determination. Discipline. Patience.

One day after the best run ever, today was the most painful run ever. Something went wrong with my left Quad at mile 8, and while I didn't quit I walked 16 of the 24 miles traveled today, wondering the whole way how I'd make it - if I'd make it - to San Juan tomorrow.

The walk was long and hot across terrain that was open, flat, and inviting a fast run:

... and I really wanted to take up the invitation but I knew I risked aggravating whatever was wrong if I did. It wasn't the pain that stopped me, it was the uncertainty of knowing if the pain was a passing cramp or something worse.

A quick word about pain and running - the two are inseparable. Runners get injured when they can't tell when pain is part of the run and when it is something broken. Figuring that out takes time and distance - sometimes miles - and sometimes by the time you figure it out the damage has been done so, employing a technical term, you're screwed.

I didn't want to be screwed. The run tomorrow is a real opportunity for something great to happen. It is the last one of the trip, traversing the mountains of Puerto Rico from Carribean to Atlantic coast, and the longest run I've attempted. Maybe it's more than I can do, but the whole point of me coming to Puerto Rico was to run to fail - to know my limits by reaching them and not because I thought I couldn't reach them.

After 197 miles tomorrow is the day.

If I fail tomorrow I'll be okay - happy even - but I don't want to fail because I was stupid today. I want to fail because I can't go any farther.

So I refused the invitation to run. I walked. And I hated it. And to keep myself from running I practiced determination, discipline and patience.

Determination can be defined several ways. I like the French way: "determination" means to identify what or where something is. I was injured and no amount of American style determination to push through regardless was going to change that.

Accepting the injury - and what was at stake if I ignored the reality of the situation - I had to discipline myself not to run.

It is easy to apply discipline to doing something, not so easy to apply it to not doing something, and it took real intention not to run. I'd wavered and tried just a few running steps several times. Just to test, just to see. It hurt, but walking hurt almost as much, so I was tempted to try again.


I had to remind myself (several times - I'm stubborn) that no amount of rationalizing the situation was going to help. (If I run I'll have more time to rest; if I run the pain will be slightly more intense, but for less time; I came here to run, not walk!, etc.) The only rational thing to do was to be disciplined and walk. And walk. And walk some more.

Which required patience.

Ah, patience: the ability to be happy with what you have now, to embrace its imperfection and forget just how imperfect it is as compared to what you want.

I'm not sure runners are patient people - after all they're always trying to get faster. It was a struggle for me, but I amused myself by noticing how fast I can walk.

I'm here tonight:

... elevating and icing my leg and resting up for tomorrow.

Because tomorrow - run or walk -I'm going to San Juan.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Playa de Salinas, PR.


  1. Keep playing it smart, Ted. We're all hoping it's just a cramp. And thanks again for bringing all of us into this adventure. I think our life will be much more boring after you return.

  2. Glad your adventure is as exciting and challenging as you hoped it would be. But be careful tomorrow! A crippled Ted is a sad Ted so don't overdue it!

  3. Being open to experience what the Universe presents to you is often not easy. I guess it isn't suppose to be. Balancing patience and non-action with determination and action seems to be a recurring theme here. Give yourself what you need to do what you feel you must.