'Beyond the Horizon'....where & how it all began....
Life in the Fast Lane reader,
I am in the midst of writing an autobiographical book of ' one ordinary runner. one extraordinary story...with the working title 'Beyond The Horizon'...
For the first time I am sharing some of the working unfinished draft.....I hope you enjoy it....if you like it (or don't like it) please feel free to let me know and/or to share to your audience....
GP – “ Timing is everything “
The possibilities of the human spirit are boundless, often only limited by our imagination, determination, desire and sense of drive. Strip away those limits, add sound planning, and the recipe for success is lit.
The Pursuit of Success is a tapestry of a great many things, a perfect storm of positive elements if you will. It is my intention through your reading of this book to take you on a journey to explore and discuss this perfect storm; guide you in the right direction and help you avoid the pitfalls of the perfect storm of negative elements known as The Fear of Success.
Whilst I believe it is true that some runners maybe be more predisposed to greater mental fortitude or positive outlooks, I equally believe that the elements that make up the Pursuit of Success are elements and traits that can be learned. Learned behaviors or skills that can be grasped and developed as per any others. It is this fact that offers hope and excitement to each and every one of us.
We will get deep into the subject of Pursuit of Success in the coming chapters but I know these behaviors can be learned from my own experience as a runner. You see, I did not start out as a fast runner, indeed, I did not even start out as a runner. My first race was not until I was twenty-six years old. I did not run in high school and I never attended college. I played a great deal of sport growing up in England but they were team sports, mostly rugby and soccer. They are great sports and from a physiological perspective, specifically in terms of coordination and agility, they served me very well.
However, associated anxieties when in a team setting are very different from the anxieties experienced when stepping to the line as an individual in a running race, be it in a marathon on the roads, or a mile race on the track.
Like so many others, I was aware of the marathon as an event for the masses; the masses that were clearly not feint of heart or short on desire. However, not being a runner at the time, I was only aware of the event from afar but I was aware of it.
In 1980, a team mate from Brighton Rugby club and I (as a pair of seventeen year olds inspired by the participants of the London marathon broadcast on television) decided to train for the marathon that year but, our so called training lasted the sum total of fourteen days. Neither of us psychologically ready or informed enough to get to the starting line. Several years were to pass before the allure of the marathon came to pass again.
A case can be made therefore that timing, and indeed more specifically, the right timing, can play an integral role in this Pursuit of Success. Our goals must be cut according to what is realistic within our given lifestyle at any given moment in time. If the goal does not match the lifestyle, then we are faced with two options. 1) Change the goal or 2) Make tangible adjustments to our lifestyle to allow the goal to reach fruition. Even then there is no guarantee of success; that is what makes sport and indeed life, so beautifully unfair. The unknown. Our job is to place ourselves in the best possible position to succeed; to stack the deck in our favor. In 1980, we did not do this. Our goals did not complement our lifestyles at the time and our knowledge was far too insufficient to achieve the task at hand. The deck was clearly stacked against us and we failed. In short, we had the right goal at the wrong time.
But did we fail? I cannot speak for my team mate as I came to lose touch with him as time passed, but years later, I would realize that the events that took place in 1980 would eventually serve as a great lesson to me allowing me to reflect back and open my mind to change in the future. In other words, in the immediacy of training for the 1980 London marathon I did fail, but I was fortunate enough to much later recognize a valuable lesson that eventually turned previous adversity into triumph.
After fourteen days in 1980 the aforementioned two option rule became a reality.
As dramatic and as romantic as the challenge of the marathon sounded, I was simply too immature, psychologically unprepared to complete the task at hand.
Unsophisticated in the world of training at the time to know that I needed to alter my lifestyle, I unknowingly changed the goal- I.e. I quit.
For the remainder of the decade of the 1980’s I continued to play a certain amount of competitive rugby and soccer but it was not until late 1989 where a defining moment at that time took place in my life. In 1989 having experienced a failed marriage to my high school sweetheart my life for all intents and purposes was going nowhere fast. Living in Los Angeles and spending far too much time partying, trying to escape the reality of how pathetic my life was, going from one girlfriend to another and one bar to another, my life was about to take a 180 degree turn. In November, as a result of a conversation with my sister, Nicole, I flew to New York to spend a long weekend with her and her family. Without my knowledge, Nicole and her husband Mason were running in a cross country meet at the famed Van Cortland Park in the Bronx.
Unbeknownst to me, I was entered into the race. It would be my first ever open race (at my school years before we had a mandatory in house cross country race once per year irrespective of whether one ran or not). I had to borrow a pair of running shoes for the race.
I managed to finish the race in a very modest time but the effort that I had to put forth to do so was an eye opener. This notwithstanding, it was the most worthwhile thing that I had done in years.
After the race whilst eating lunch at a restaurant in Queens, Nicole reminded me that I used to be a good athlete in school and then challenged me to train for the New York marathon the following year. An event that Mason was planning on running.
I returned back to Los Angeles and picked up right where I had left off. The vibes of accomplishment having completed the cross country race were quickly replaced with the easy life of a warm winter by the Pacific. I was no longer exercising except for body surfing whilst spending all too frequent days at the beach. Nicole would occasionally call to remind me of our conversation but to no avail. By March of 1990, I was no closer to being ready to begin training for a marathon than I was some ten years before.
Deep down however, I was not satisfied, I felt that there should and could be more to my life, but I just couldn’t seem to get started. In short, I wanted to change but I did not know how to enact change and I did not know how to take control of my own destiny.
March 4th 1990: The day my life changed direction.
If his Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, The Fourteenth Dalai Lama is correct about every person having five defining moments in their lifetime, then I am convinced that March 4th, 1990 was one of my five.
In the weeks leading up to that date I had received a few, not so subtle inquiries from my sister as to whether I had commenced my training for the New York marathon later that year. Of course, I was procrastinating and had not yet begun. The disappointment from ten years earlier in England was still with me and the wholesome satisfaction from running the cross country race in the Bronx some five months earlier was clawing at me. Yet, I could not break free until March 4th.
March 4th 1990 was the date of the fifth annual Los Angeles marathon. Earlier that week I made a promise to myself that I would go and watch the race in person.
Yet, once again, with only myself to blame, I allowed myself to get distracted from my plan and along with my ‘ so called ‘ friends, stayed out until the wee hours of the morning the night before the race.
What happened next was the defining moment aforementioned and something I will never ever forget.
To be continued.........