Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fact: Nobody can understand me (but another runner or triathlete)

I honestly can not remember a single time in my life, even when I was a little kid, that I did not have a goal. I'm not talking about the "gosh, someday I'd like to..." type of goals, I'm referring to goals that I wrote down or things that I wanted where I had pictures posted and I had a plan as to what I needed to do to achieve or acquire something. What I have discovered is that there are very few people out there who can really relate except for other runners and triathletes.

For example, back in 1997 on my 38th birthday, I set a goal to qualify for the 2000 Boston Marathon in conjunction with my 40th birthday and the millennium. I had my training schedule lined out up to 6 months in advance, which marathons I was going to peak for to try to qualify, the whole nine yards. I was running a minimum of 40 miles a week in the Houston summer, and up to 60-70 miles a week in the fall and winter. I had a piece of paper taped to my computer monitor that read "Boston Marathon 2000 - 3:20 = 7:38 pace" and was always focused on what I needed to do to make that happen. At the time I started my quest, I had never even broken 3:30, but I was dedicated to doing whatever it took to train and make it happen. I remember talking to friends or neighbors who would say, "I saw you out running. Are you training for something?" and I'd try to explain what it was I was doing. The common answer back to me was "I could never have that type of dedication" or "I can't imagine training for 2 years for something and not knowing if you are going to make it or not". In some ways it made me feel isolated, like there really wasn't anyone that I could talk to about it (other than another runner) that would really understand.

And now I'm training for an Ironman. Talk about REALLY being misunderstood. It's almost as if now when I'm asked if I'm training for something, I don't even want to say anything about it. Here is how the conversations go now:

Person 1: Hi Robert, are you still running?
Robert: Yes (in the back of my mind, please let that be the end of the questions)
Person 1: What are you training for?
Robert: (Oh God, not that question) An Ironman.
Person 1: Isn't that where you swim, bike and run?
Robert: Yes (please ask me about something else now)
Person 1: How far is it?
Robert: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run
Person 1: (blank look as they assimilate that information)
Person 1: Do you do all of that without stopping?
Robert: Yes.
Person 1: Well, good luck with it (this is their way of saying, "I can not comprehend what I just heard and why anyone would want to do that?!")
Robert: So what are you up to these days?
Person 1: Well, nothing as big as what you are doing. Talk to you later.

1 comment:

faithrunner said...

Precisely the point, no one but another athlete can truly comprehend what you go through and why you do it!! Many people ask me why I run, why I run far or put my body through all that pain/work. It's hard to explain but at least I know why I do it. I hope your training goes well and you reach your goals, stay injury free, and enjoy doing it.