You thought it was a 5K? Herein lies the story.
It has not been unusual in my life for me to obsess about a small thing just to see the big goal go unattained, or even be obliterated. The problem is, I don’t know I’m doing it until it’s too late. The ego gets involved, and before you know it, that big dream you’ve been shooting for is whisked out of your hands. Take these race day stories as an example of what not to do when you have a goal in mind.
At the Oregon Trail Rally in 2004, Dennis Martin and I had a competitive Mitsubishi Evo4 and were running up an Oregon mountainside on Saturday morning. We were pretty optimistic about our chances, as we had won one stage on Friday outright. We had a fast car, a good driver, and a smooth co-driver.
Then the unusual occurred. About a third of the way up this racing stage, the temperature gauges started to notify us that the car was getting hot. Too hot. We finally located the problem. A weak circuit breaker on the dash kept popping, shutting the fans on the radiator off. Solution? Hold the circuit breaker in. I would hold it in until I had to swap pages in my notes, then Dennis would hold it in while driving screaming up the mountain. Yeah. That would work.
The results are pictured here. While focusing on keeping the circuit breaker engaged, Dennis slightly overshot a corner and ran the right wheels up a bank, which put us on two wheels, which put us on the driver’s door right on the edge of a 250-foot drop. We were rolling uncontrollably off the road surface.
What does this have to do with the Komen 5…er…4K.
Last month, I promised the world I’d run the St. Louis Komen 5K. Turns out that I was the only person I knew who was actually going to run the whole thing. The other 15 or 20 in our Missouri Athletic Club group were going to walk it. But I’d done all this training, successfully exceeding 5K several times. So I was going to follow through on my promise to you readers and myself.
Then the unusual occurred. One of our party, Joel Karsten, the president of our club and a healthy young man 30 years my junior with basketball player legs, decided to leave his wife and kids home. They were going to push a stroller, so he normally would have walked. He was now freed up to run with me. Cool!
But just as with Dennis and the Evo on the Oregon mountainside, I got distracted. Instead of running my normal 3.1 miles lightly, jogging the first mile, picking it up in the second, and using up whatever I had on the third, I tried to keep the circuit breaker depressed and keep up with long-legged, in-shape Joel from the start line.
Just as with the race up the mountainside, my distraction cost me a finish on the Komen 5K. At about four kilometers, I was out of oxygen. I stumbled twice, with Joel catching me both times, but still couldn’t keep my legs in front of me and finally went down on the pavement.
Sitting and catching my breath would’ve worked fine. I could have rested for 10–15 minutes and finished the last kilometer. But my crash was right in front of an emergency medical technician tent. Ever try to talk an EMT out of helping you? Doesn’t work. O2 up the nose, on the motorized cart, and sirened through the runners to the air-conditioned tent at the finish line, where I was thoroughly gone over.
What’s the moral? There are several ways of putting it:
- Focus on the majors.
- Don’t chase shiny objects.
- When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s difficult to remind yourself your mission was to drain the swamp.
We’ve heard them all. But the fact is most of us have Knower/Judgers that easily distract us from what we really want in pursuit of short-term emotional satisfaction.
Dennis had paid thousands of dollars to get his car from Wisconsin to Oregon to race. He had to continue racing up that mountain. His ego was on the line.
I spent weeks conditioning my knee and getting my distance and endurance up. But I had to keep up with the youngster. I guess my ego was too.
What distracts you? What is it that happens that you just have to take care of, obscuring your path to success? What could you do if your Learner/Researcher became aware of it and decided to do something different.
FYI, just to prove to myself that I wasn’t a hopeless optimist, I ran my 3.5-mile loop in my hometown the following Tuesday. Now back on the bike and in the pool before my knees start barking again!
“I’ll be back.” ~ A. Schwarzenegger