Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Next Step

(Continuing excerpts from John "The Penguin" Binghams book The Courage to Start for those of us at The Vineyard preparing for the PF Changs Rock & Roll Half Marathon)

When I started running, my goal was to be able to run a mile without stopping. Since I couldn't run more than fifty yards at a time, a mile seemed like the ultimate achievable distance. After a few months, when a mile was no longer an unthinkable distance, I set my sights on running three miles.

I measured a mile and a half away from my house and made a mark in the road. This would be my sword in the stone. If I could run that mile and a half away from my house, I would have to get back. And when I did, I would have covered three miles with my own two feet.

I didn't make it to the mark the first time I tried. I didn't make it the second or third time either. It just looked too far. And if it looked too far going out, imagine how far it would have looked coming back. Still, that mark was out there, beckoning me to run past my fear.

Eventually I pushed past the point of no return. I ran until I could see the mark. Then I ran to the mark. The first time I made it, I stopped for awhile. I wanted to savor the moment. I wanted to celebrate-not the distance, but the victory over my self-imposed limitations.

Running back, knowing that every step was taking me deeper into unknown territory, I was overcome with an odd combination of joy and anxiety. I was happy that I was running farther than I had ever run, but I was worried because I didn't know what I would do next.

Sooner or later it happens. Sooner or later the unthinkable becomes thinkable and the undoable is done. In time, a distance that was beyond the imagination becomes routine. In time, a pace that was elusive becomes ordinary. When that happens, for better or worse, we have to find new goals.


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