Thanks to all those who complimented my last post and left supportive comments. While it may have served as motivation for some and inspiration for others, my intention in writing it was strictly to serve as a reminder to myself not to allow my passion for perpetual improvement in my athletic endeavors blind me from the practical limitations of my body and the appreciation of what I've already accomplished in this recreational sport of running. It is a trap that I fall into often, especially when the ordinary seems so mundane and the drive for excellence is ever present. However, it is important for me, as well as others who take their training and racing as seriously as I do, to recognize that the journey to becoming a better runner is every bit as important as the destination. In other words, no matter what, where, and when our goals may be, we're all traveling the same roads in the same general direction so it behooves us to understand and appreciate all the qualities that make us "common" instead of constantly focusing on individual attributes that make us not.
Speaking of destinations and traveling, I myself just returned from a six day expedition to San Diego less than 24 hours ago. (Thus explaining my brief absence from the interwebs, sorry!) Although on paper this trip was arranged specifically around a medical conference for which my attendance was requested, practically speaking, I saw this interlude from the daily grind more as an excuse to explore a new city on foot while replenishing my vitamin D stores (via direct sunlight of course) than as an opportunity for education and networking. Don't get me wrong. I did attend conference for several hours every day and got to meet many old friends and colleagues in my specialty that are often too busy, as I am, to gather and socialize after work. All I'm saying is that I managed to run in excess of 50 miles during my brief stay in town and came back with a bigger tan than all the other attendees at this conference. I plan to give a summary of my runs, (including maps and pictures) around town in a future post so you can see where exactly I ran and where you might run too if you happen to visit the city on a future date. Suffice it to say that San Diego, much to my suprise, is a conglomeration of massive hills and splendid coasts. As long as you can manage the former and enjoy the latter, you will absolutely love running everywhere while you're in town.
Aside from attending conference and running, I also got to meet friends and hear some incredible stories that helped me truly understand and appreciate what's really important in life. From a tale of a friend in her early 30s who found an incidental tumor in her hip requiring surgical excision and radiation resulting in loss of mobility in her left leg to a friend who was reuniting with her mother after 20+ years apart. From a peer who lost her mother to pancreatic cancer less than six months after her own baby was born to another who confessed to me to having a eating disorder since a very early age. I was so enchanted and enriched by all of the stories that I heard while on this trip that I couldn't help but feel extremely blessed to be healthy and thought about them on all of my runs this past week. Because of these lessons, I made sure to slow down my touristy runs and take pictures of all the interesting places that I ran around. (Yes, I will share them in a later post!) I also realized that life is short; the athletic life shorter still and so we must make every opportunity to make every second count, especially when we are young and had experienced success early. The messages to me were clear: Dare to run slow and take inventory of the scenery. When you run, do not look only forward but take the time to find the magic off to the side as well. Finally, do not forget to kiss your loved ones and tell them you love them everyday and then some.
In the end, I think these lessons from the road were way more important than any esoteric information that I could have picked up just sitting there at conference. Just don't tell anyone in charge of me or my patients, who perceives my dark tan as evidence that I played hookie all weekend long! If only they knew. If only they knew.