Who Needs a Countdown Anyway?

Life is a series of sacrifices

I am writing the bulk of this post while on my lunch break at my new job. I am still in training but on the job rather than in the classroom. I am ecstatic that I have gained an opportunity to work in my field of study and interest.

But it has come at a cost.

During my time in the classroom, which was 40 hours a week, I maintained my previous job full time as well. This lead to a lot of challenges in finding time to train.

The result is that I am over 350 miles off my goal pace for the year.

However, I am fortunate enough that my new job was able to schedule me such that I am still able to attend my registered races this weekend.

Including the big one, the Olander 24-hour Ultra.

I have a bunch of wonderful people who are volunteering to come out and assist me in my quest to run as far as I can in 24 hours. My goal is to hit at least the 100 mile mark, with a stretch goal of 120 miles.

100 miles is 5% of my year goal!

So, while I will need some time off to recover following my race, I should put a dent in my year.

I wanted to post 100 reasons why I run and train for such a monstrous goal as 120 miles in 24 hours.

But, again, life is a series of sacrifices.

I had to make a lot of decisions based on what I knew I needed more. Running the miles was more important than talking or writing about them. Working to support myself and pay bills takes even higher priority. As such, when I got the call to start training for my new job with only a couple busy days notice, I had no real decisions to make.

I already knew what I had to do.

I’m still excited about my goal. The challenge of it seems to be growing. There is a significant part of me that enjoys a difficult challenge. Surely you couldn’t have figured that out already, of course.

I will have a chance to give an update on the races this weekend next week. Look forward to it. But, if you want to cheer me on, follow my Facebook page and comment or message throughout the race to encourage me or just keep tabs on how it is going.  At least one member of my crew will be posting periodic updates and passing your words of encouragement on to me.

Time passes…

I’m now editing this and about to post it minutes before going into work about 36 hours before the Olander start. In the morning, right after I get off my shift, I have a race too. The Boy Scout Half-Marathon in Bowling Green, OH is the fourth of five races in the Run-The-419 Grand Prix series. I figure 13.1 miles should be a good warm-up for my nearly 10 times longer run Sunday, right?

Countdown: 44 Days – Reasons 89 & 88

44 Days To Go

Reason 89: Food Tastes Better

Maybe it is all the calories burned. Perhaps it is having ‘earned it’. But one simple truth is the first couple things eaten after cooling down from a good run taste wonderful.

I expect that it might be something coming out of all the blood and neuro-chemicals pulsing around my body. Senses just sharpen. Then all the great details of food’s flavor come to life.

Reason 88: Collecting Data

We live in an age of data collection and analysis. I like looking back at the performance of a run, a week, a month, and seeing how it went from a statistical perspective. Data doesn’t lie. It doesn’t go by feel. And it isn’t distorted by the human experience.

It’s nice to see when I managed to do something surprising like set a new segment record for myself. Data can also be averaged and divided to extrapolate. Compare a flat looping run against a wandering trail course of the same length. All provide insight and food for thought. And that helps me improve, plan, and enjoy what I’m doing.

Countdown: 45 Days – Reasons 91 & 90

45 Days To Go

Reason 91: Time to Think

Every day that I go out to run is a day that I get an hour or two just to myself. I don’t have any computers in front of me. No one talks to me during the run most of the time. And while I like to listen to music while I run, it fades to background as I think and consider things.

This active solitude is a gift. I can let my mind float back and forth on ideas, problems and events from my daily life without distraction. As a result, I’ve come up with some great ideas on runs that I later flesh out.

Reason 90: Time to ‘Pray’

I am not a religious individual. Spiritual on the other hand I can agree with, even if it doesn’t show often. Another thing the solitude and activity of running can bring me is a type of meditative state.

Focus on posture and breath, much like sitting in meditation, is an important part of running already. As I focus on my form, I feel solid and centered, even if I’m struggling. And in that state, I can give my wishes to the world. Or perhaps it is more that I am open to what the world has to say. This is what I mean by ‘pray’.

It seems like I inch closer to alignment with the universe and things go more in my favor, even if it doesn’t appear that way at first. Things fall into place. I become more whole.

Countdown: 46 Days – ‘Why?’ Parts 93 & 92

46 Days To Go

Reason 93: Wildlife

Being out in the parks and on the trails, you see a lot of people. High school cross country teams are frequent. Dog walkers are common. Lone and tandem runners. A good amount of bicyclist. Even the occasional stroller pusher or kid-corraller.

But the best thing to see is the wildlife. Squirrels abound everywhere out here. It’s the deer, snakes, groundhogs and the huge variety of birds that always make me smile. Where I grew up, there were pigeons and sparrows and that was about it. Here running out in nature, however cultivated it might be, life flows over out of the bushes.

Sometimes I have to leap over a snake in the trail. One time in a small trail race the lead runner way ahead of me paused to move a turtle out of the path. I’ve many times been within arm’s reach of one or more deer.

Today, however, a peregrine falcon who I was watching left its perch and flew right over my head, within a foot clearance. It was beautiful and exhilarating and the best close encounter I’ve ever had. And I eagerly look forward to the one that tops it.

Reason 92: Bystanders

Remember all those people I described above? They are a lot more mundane in our everyday experience, but can be pretty darn interesting themselves. I’ve met a group of elderly whittlers, (that is working wood with a small knife), artists painting the visitor center, folks going to a costumed tea and martial artist practicing forms for public interest.

And of course all the others. Brief chats at a road crossing with a bicyclist like today are delightful. Running a mile with an older lady and discussing why we are out there was enlightening. Folks at a race or a club event are always friendly.

I may not seek these people or animals out, but running brings me in contact with them.

Countdown: 47 Days – Reasons 96 through 94

Persistence Hunting.

47 Days To Go

Had a timing hiccup yesterday, so a double today!

Reason 96: Weight Control

When I started taking my running seriously, around 15 months ago, a major goal was to lose weight. Today, that goal has both been met, and has grown. Running allows me to have some indulgences now and again. I also, after losing 50 lbs. have decided that I want to drop 20 more yet.

Reason 95: Learning About How Food Works

In part with the above, I’ve learned and am still learning a lot about food. The broad overview in school can be broken down into a lot of details and nuances that matter. And learning how to provide yourself with the right fuel at the right time has been eye-opening. Now, applying all these lessons is another story. But, as they said back in the day, ‘knowing is half the battle’.

Reason 94: Everyone Has To Earn It

One thing I think I am realizing and loving about running is that it can’t be given to you. Everyone has to earn a good performance. You may have the gift of heritage and location. Wealth, environment, genetics, biomechanical edges, all are great. However, if you don’t work at it, you don’t get it. I didn’t have a lot of those things. You don’t have to. The most important thing to have, is grit. Determination. A will to say, ‘Oh, I can work hard and get that? I’m in!’

Reason 93: Chasing Down the Best is the Only Way to Beat Them

I don’t think I have designs on competing seriously in major running events, ultra or otherwise. But, to be an age-group contender? I wouldn’t mind that. To do one thing that makes someone go ‘Oh, damn. People can do that?’ Yeah, I want that. And I never had designs on running a marathon, let alone an ultramarathon one year ago. Yet, here I am.

A major league ultramarathon runner, Pete Kostelnick, is coming to the Olander Endurance Challenge, the 24 hour race I am counting down to. He is super accomplished and is almost a cinch to win it easily. That said, I look forward to giving him at least a moment of consideration. I want to cook down the loops on his tail and make him take it from me. Do I think I can catch him? I don’t have to. I just have to chase him. If he’s moving, I’m chasing him down. If he’s still, I’m gaining ground. I can’t beat the best if I don’t at least try to chase them down. After all, we evolved to be persistence hunters.

And I hope to learn a ton from running in such a small intimate race as this one.

Countdown: 49 Day – Reasons 98 & 97

49 Days To Go

Reason 98: Adventure

Today, we went out for a drive about to the south side of the Toledo area. Monclova, Maumee, and Perrysburg are parts of the greater Toledo area we don’t get to visit often. I’m currently considering a very long run on a trail that starts in this area, and we went out to plan where support stops might be made. We retraced some steps I made previously in the area. Got to try a new restaurant, not that it turned out well in this instance. And in general, we had a bit of fun wandering the area. We even learned that in these more affluent suburbs, the usual Kroger grocery store was quite different than in our neighborhood.

I enjoy having the excuse to go out of the house like this to scout out paths and just be adventurous like when I was growing up.

Reason 97: Exploring

Sure, this is a little like above, and certainly one way to find adventure is to go exploring. What I am getting at though is the discovery of new things. Finding the point on the trail where it transitioned from paved to natural trail was such a matter of exploring. We also got to find all manner of shops and beautiful houses while looking for transit routes and parking locations.

None of these would have happened had I not been considering this silly one-way run. And I would not have considered something like a 45-50 mile one-way run, had I not been planning and training for the 24 hour race.

Now we know some parks we want to visit and spend more time at. We found a shopping plaza we look forward to exploring more in the future. And we had a pretty damn good evening out and about.

Countdown to 100 Miles in 1 Day

50 Days To Go

I’m going to try something different in the countdown to my first official ultramarathon race. Today is 50 days out from the 24 hour timed event’s start. My aim for the blog is to try and talk briefly about two reasons to run that race each of those 50 days.

Reason 100: The Strategic Planning

I love the planning elements of training and running this type of event. Any activity that goes over a huge number of hours and effort requires planning. There is planning in figuring out how to train and improve to handle the effort. Also, lots of planning going into recruiting and training crew, ensuring logistic support, and the details of recovery.

I just enjoy puzzling over the requirements. Reviewing the available resources and deciding how best to use them. Figuring out how to acquire more needed resources to fill in deficits. It’s a logic puzzle, a visualizing exercise, and a chance to use my preparedness education.

Reason 99: The Daily Growth

In the planning above, I’ve had to evaluate myself and my abilities in a serious light. Among the resources I have to call upon, the most important in this case is my own physical ability. And that is something I can improve.

In fact, that improvement is a major reason I do running to begin with. I started my quest with a desire to be able to run in the first place. That grew into wanting to improve my distance. Improve my time. Reduce my weight. Test my limits.

In the pursuits, I have thought about my goals and my training daily. Even if I don’t run on a given day, I evaluate how I feel closer. Watching for injuries, recovering from workouts, all things I see growth in. And the data crunching of my runs. It is always satisfying to see that I run a casual outing so much faster than I did last year.

 

Race Report: Glass City Marathon 2017

Pre-race Glass City Marathon

Race & Conditions

  • Race: Glass City Marathon
  • Location: Toledo, OH, Start and Finish at The University of Toledo
  • Date: Sunday, April 23rd, 2017
  • Start: 7 am
  • Weather: 36°F (2°C) at Start. Rising Throughout. 60°F (15°C) at Finish.
  • Participants: Nearly 8,000 Runners across all events

There is a first for everything

The Glass City Marathon had been noticeable in the past I live fairly close to the mid-course park that features prominently. I’ve lived in Toledo for 16 years now and this is where running took root in me, so I feel it was appropriate for my first to be the Glass City Marathon. I signed up for when I started this blog and my quest to run 2017 miles this year. There were some major set-backs in February and March, but I made it to race day. I felt my condition was good to give 26.2 miles a try.

Goals

  • Complete
  • < 4:30:00 Finish
  • Quick Recovery to handle work event
  • 3:59:59 or Better Finish
  • ~9:00 min/mi steady pace

Prelude

My training was less than ideal in the last couple months. Due to injury and illness I lost around 6 weeks of effort. I still managed a hard ramp up and a later than planned long run of 21 miles leading up to the race. Still, I managed to feel pretty confident in my abilities and was absolutely ecstatic after that long run, which surprised me. Bolstered against any doubts, made a plan for race week and day. I went over my practical preparations in this post.

To give a little bit of the setting, where I work I occasionally run events, some late at night, that require a lot of standing, walking, and general running around to do things. Sometimes the scheduling of those events are outside our control as they are unified on an international schedule. Of course, on race weekend I would have a series of 5 big events with the race right in the middle on Sunday morning.

I tried to manage my caffeine, eating, and workload going through Friday and Saturday to improve my immediate condition for the race. Ultimately, I got lucky in a kind of horrible way: our Saturday evening event cancelled. That is a very unusual thing to happen, and sadly means less revenue than expected too. However, this allowed me an extra 3 hours of sleep and to wake up a half hour earlier on race day! The universe is strange and provides. I took it as a sign and a gift. I was going to do this.

The Race

I have spent hours looking over and running parts of the marathon course in the weeks leading up to it. The University of Toledo, where it would start and end was a place I spent many years at and hold two degrees to prove it. I am very familiar with the campus and neighborhoods the course utilized. My other half volunteered to help out in the beer tent for the shift that started and ended while I would be on the road. We arrived and parked with plenty of time to walk across campus to the starting zone.

A massive sea of people spread out around the starting area. As time got closer, everyone moved into the corrals, where I selected corral c, which is for an expected finish of under 4:30:00. My biggest goal was to finish at any cost, even if I had to claw my way across finish with my legs slung over my shoulders.

My second goal was to finish with dignity in under four and a half hours. Starting area was buzzed by the Mercy Health helicopter 3 times in flyover, which was pretty fun, and then right on time at 7:02 am, the race started.

I was hyped. I wonder if my little flourishes and big grin ate at my precious energy reserves, but I feel most alive when faced with a challenge that feels at the edge of my abilities. So, I probably acted the fool, but no one including myself cared.

Miles 1 – 4

In my excitement, I was pretty thoroughly ignoring the cold. The temperature was a bit lower than I expected in the days leading up the event. Once everyone got moving, I  slowly started to notice exactly how cold my fingers were getting.

The race had provided an app, RaceJoy for tracking uses to both racers and spectators. I had it pulled up on my phone alone with my Itunes playlist and left it stowed in my long-run bag behind my back. Unfortunately, when I knew I had passed the three mile mark and the phone wasn’t telling me anything, I went to pull it out and look at it.

Each finger reported no tactile sensation as I fumbled behind my back with the pack. Regardless, with a bit of mid-stride shifting I got the phone into the grasp of my meat icicles and managed to tweak the setting to start proper tracking. When I crossed the 4 mile marker, the phone reported that I was right on track for my 9 min/mi pace, and it was good.

Miles 5-10

As the crowd started to spread out and segment a little, we got into the thick of the Ottawa Hills neighborhood of Toledo. There were a lot of spectators clustered about at the turns and in scattered driveways as we ran past some of the more expensive and impressive houses in the metro area. The streets where extremely well secured from vehicle traffic and wide open for jockeying position.

Somewhere in this leg I would fall in behind a blonde woman with bib 960. She and I seemed to have a pretty evenly matched pace and we would occasionally swap positions around a turn only to have her pop back ahead of me a few stride a moment later. 960, if you are reading this, you are awesome! I really felt locked in following your heels. We moved through the next 10 miles this way.

I was taking in the crowds and the funny signs and really just enjoying myself through this part, and I knew it couldn’t stay so easy, but I felt like I had hit that limitless pace. Finally, after the first gel-aided water station I saw a couple of the friends I had cajoled to come cheer me on. Scott and Danny, regulars at work, were in the park near a turn where two trails split and we all three went nuts.

“That’s my peeps!” I yelled and gestured wildly.

They were wearing the bright blue t-shirts I had made up with this site’s logo on them and where posing and yelling and I couldn’t be happier. They gave me a great burst of energy that I carried on through the halfway mark

Miles 11-18

Exiting the park, we entered the first segment on the University-Parks Trail. This was where I had done most of my training and comfortable to me. Running from the center of the trail and out the short end, it turned back into a road race at King Road and we were on the shoulder of what is usually some respectably busy streets. The 13 mile mark was right before a major intersection and the near side was crowded with spectators. This was the place another friend of mine had said he would be at to cheer me on.

After a couple minutes of scanning as I ran, I saw the bright blue shirt and the yelling began again!

John is a much quieter person and he politely waved and cheered me on, but I wanted people to know that he was awesome for being there and I appreciated it immensely. I wonder how many beer tent stories there were at the end of the day about these moments of a runner cheering on the crowd like a madman. Ah, well. I got a great belt of energy out of it that carried me through the next park.

At this point the Half Marathon runners had peeled off and were heading towards their own finish. I saw a ton of relay runners, as you could tell from their blue bibs, but not many red bib marathon runners and even fewer yellow bib first timers like myself. I stayed heavy on the heels of 960 as we rounded into and around the small lake Olander Park and entered the most challenging area.

Corey Road leads us back into the huge Wildwood Park, but not until we navigate the wavy hills of the footpath to get there. I knew this area could sap a lot of energy, but I was still keeping right on pace according to my phone feedback and I felt good.

Miles 19-24.2

We poured down the last hill and entered what I consider the far side of the park. Something about coming out of the hills tripped a trigger. As I approached the bridge that connects the two ends of the park, I saw Scott again who crossed the bridge to cheer me on again. There was no yelling from me this time. He waved and cheered.

All I could mutter out was a “Oh, I feel it now. I feel it”.

Mile 20 was a slight down hill on the bridge but then took the one uphill I regularly run at the park to pass through an earlier aid station on the way back to the University-Parks Trail and the finish. That hill broke my stride.

I had been waylaid during the winter months with an IT Band injury,  so when BOTH my knees lit up like a fresh brand was pushed into their sides, I blanched. Suddenly I was hobbling instead of running and hustled with a limp through the water stop and onto the final leg of the race.

I walked one whole mile with that limp, terrified that I had not only recurred the right leg injury but also injured my left leg the same. As I contemplated my options and deciding what I must do, I saw one lone family in the middle of an otherwise empty quarter mile. They smiled and a little girl held up one of the many green plastic cups full of water they had handy.

I had hit every aid station up to that point, and there were so many, but this act of kindness compelled me. I was thirsty and suddenly miserable. Hobbling over, the parents approved, I gently stopped, took down the half cup of water, and handed off the empty plastic to the mother. “Thank you so much!” I huffed as politely as I could and with deep genuine gratitude. Never have I tasted sweeter water, and it had nothing to do with the flavor.

I began a broken trot and after a few hundred feet it became a steady plod. Slow, likely messy, but the pain pushed down and I could move again.

Miles 24.2 – 26.2

These may have been the hardest of the race as I refused to let myself ease up again. I was moving again and I would be damned if I was going to walk over the finish. There was a flag on the course just a bit before the end of the trail that marked only 2 miles to go.

Somehow, with the path the course took, one mile of that ran over campus roads and back-end parking lots where there was nearly no one to cheer on the runners. That was the mental challenge, to keep moving so close to the end, but so spent and in pain, while there were no eyes. I had long lost sight of 960 when I started walking and I was certain her and many others who passed me had finished.

I gritted down and ripped out my earphones at this point and heard everyone in the distance. Few other runners were in the cones and tape set-up to guide us in this no man’s land. And finally, I turned the corner.

I saw the after party in full swing and tons of people with medals and mugs cheering on those of us following behind them from the iron rails that had replaced the cones and tape in this final stretch. I rallied and smiled.

Entering the stadium, I heard everyone at the edges cheering in one cacophonous and glorious voice. I usually finish my races with a final hard kick at the end, sprinting at the finish line. This time all I could do was lengthen my stride and mutter ‘Yes, yes, yes, I made it” to myself as I flowed towards the 50 yard line of the Glass Bowl Stadium.

Results and Aftermath

Results

  • Chip time: 04:22:54
  • Pace: 10:02 min/mile
  • Checkpoints
    • 4.3 Miles
      • 09:13 min/mi
    • 6.7 Miles
      • 09:00 min/mi
    • 9.4 Miles
      • 09:07 min/mi
    • 12.9 Miles
      • 08:57 min/mi
    • 16 Miles
      • 09:10 min/mi
    • 20.9 Miles
      • 09:20 min/mi
  • Overall: 695 of 1,070
  • Overall Male: 452 of 638
  • Male 35-39: 66 of 84

There were no more checkpoints after the 21 mile mark it seems, but that is when I ran into trouble.  The dreams of closing sub-4 hours on my first marathon didn’t manifest. Still, I finished as strong as I could muster. Looking back at the results I am damned proud of what I did put up. That performance up to mile 21 was more than adequate for a first time amateur runner’s attempt. Even with the 10 minute overall pace I ended up with is respectable.

Aftermath

After the race was over, there was a TON of food and support, including two beer tickets with my bib, but I wasn’t feeling it. I downed my recovery shake as soon as I was reminded of its existence and only could munch a few pretzels, a bite of pasta and a bite of pizza before it became too much for me.

I would have loved to recover there a bit longer and mill about, but I had a job to get to. The festivities for me were over with a walk half-way across campus to the car. My other half was concerned about my ability to drive, but once I sat in a proper seat my legs agreed to do the task of driving without problem.

I wore my medal for the rest of the day. Nearly a pound of metal, I was too proud of the giant thing to let it go. Luckily part of the job that day involved a lot of pizza for customers and staff, so I ate hearty once my stomach came off strike.

Right now, two days after, I am super eager to go out and start piling miles up. But, I’m trying to be good and give myself time to rest. I may go out tomorrow, Wednesday, for a light slow jog. My eagerness is only matched by my concern that I may have revived that IT Band injury. Time will tell.

Conclusion

The Glass City Marathon was amazing. I wish I would have had a little more time to write about it. Like the Expo on Saturday and the funny signs in the crowds. This pass though, time was not on my side. I haven’t decided on whether I will do next year’s Glass City Marathon. I have already signed up for one in fall.

If you want to see a bunch of pictures of the loot I got check out the Facebook Page. I’ll post them up soon, including two finisher t-shirts, the giant medal, mug, and my ‘Mover’ team/fan shirt.

Practical Preparing for My First Marathon

Preparing step 1 remove kitten from shoe

At this point the Glass City Marathon is under 100 hours away. The training preparation has been underway for months. Now is the time to trust my training and get out of my own way. To do that, I am preparing all the practical affairs of running my largest race to date.

Ready

The first thing to do is prepare for preparing. That may sound circular, but to ensure you have all the elements needed in place for a successful race, you need to identify them. I’ve been thinking about these elements for a while. I’ve run previous, smaller races successfully and have learned a lot about what works. Each time is a learning experience that can improve the next if you observe and make notes.

The Checklist

To make my checklist, I visualize the time leading up to and through the race, including recovery and exit from the area shortly after. This can help you to find the things that are unique to you and your situation and prepare accordingly.

For myself, I will be working late the night before the race, possibly as late as midnight. So, while meal planning began at the start of the week to prepare myself, the immediate period of concern begins Saturday before work.

I’m running a special event at work, several really. This event involves food and a lot of running around to answer questions, distribute materials, and generally administer the event. I know that I will want my vice of a Monster energy drink during the later event. My rest before a 5 am alarm when I am working until midnight will be of the utmost importance. This leads me to consider the first section of my checklist: Sleep

Sleep
  • No Monster or other caffeine after 6 pm Saturday
  • No food after 10 pm Saturday
  • Lights out and no screens once home
  • Bed at earliest possibility

All these steps are to let me try to get as restful a sleep as I can in the few hours I’ll have. I will actually want to be fairly tired and ready for bed when I get done with Saturday.

Set

You might look at this and wonder ‘What about alarms, laying out clothes, ect.’? I should be done preparing before I leave for work at noon on Saturday. Towards that end, what will I need the morning of the race that I can easily have staged? Let’s imagine that morning and make some highlights we can work with.

When I wake up to my alarm set for 5 am, I will want to wake up quickly. Drinking  bottle of water will help with that and re-hydrate me from the hours of sleep.

I’ll want to quickly get my race breakfast into my system. This time that is around a 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt and 2 tablespoons of honey.

I’ll then jump through a shower and shave my face before dressing in my race clothes. That has it’s own checklist, but should be folded up and standing by for me.

Finally, I’ll check on my gear, also with it’s own sub-list, and head out to the site, The University of Toledo.

Let’s look at this section of checklist then.

Morning
  • Alarm for 5 am Saturday, with a 5:05 am back-up on separate device
  • Bottle of water at bedside
  • Sufficient Greek yogurt, honey stock on hand
  • Fresh towel and razor set out
  • Race Clothes set out
    • Running Briefs
    • Running Shorts (Grey Starter)
    • Running Shirt (Grey Compression with Vents)
    • Running Socks (White New Balance)
    • Running Shoes
    • Hair tie
  • Check and load gear
    • Electronics
      • Charged Phone
      • Charged External Battery
      • Charged Fitbit
    • Charging Cable
    • Earphone
    • Wallet and Keys
    • Med kit
    • Recovery Shake
    • Long-run Pouch (Maybe)

Here we have worked out the things that need preparing before I even leave for work Saturday. When I come home, I’ll go straight to bed. When I wake up, I’ll give my self every time advantage and energy by having everything ready to go with just a cursory final glance.

The Long-run Pouch is a maybe as I’ve not decided on using it or not to hold the external battery and phone. I know I will not be using it for the liquid or other storage capacities as it gets heavy and slows me down that way.

There are other things I’ve already put on and checked off my lists, such as making a music playlist, updating and setting up apps, and planning my last 72 hours of meals.

Go!

I hope to be out the door and on the way to the race at 6 am. That actually feels like a pretty close window to find parking and make it to the appropriate starting area. I live no more than a 10 minute drive from the University of Toledo Campus. Yet, they  expect several thousand participants and volunteers at the event.

I have a plan for how to get to Campus and where to park there. I have a loose fall-back plan as well, but that may involve a warm-up run just to get to Start on time. At least I will already have my race bib from Saturday morning packet pick-up.

That was all the easy stuff…

Finally, I’ll just have to do the thing and run the race. I’ll have to be back at work a couple hours after I finish the race too, and I have made some preparations for that already, including having some very understanding co-workers and customers.

I am excited and I hope you are too. The RaceJoy App for Android and Iphone will be used for this race, so if you want to see updates in real-time, my bib number is 1114.  Cheer all the runners on through social media on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #RunGlassCity. Cheer me on through comments, the RaceJoy App, 2017miles Facebook page, or @RobJelf on Twitter.

Knowing vs Doing What Must Be Done

Knowing which way to go is the first step to getting there.

Knowing vs Doing What Must Be Done

There is a whole industry around motivation. YouTube channels and e-books abound on the topic. Motivational speakers, once a laughable title, are now multi-millionaires who thrive on the image of knowing reality shaping ‘secrets’.

Much of this seems to miss an important point.

Doing is fundamentally easy. The task may not be easy, for whatever reason, but the doing of it is. When you are an author, writing is a simple task in that it can be broken down into researching, developing, outlining, writing, and ultimately editing what your topic or story is. These are all actions with real concrete steps and moments of progress. If you are a bodybuilder it is similar. You plan, workout, measure your progress, recovery, and repeat until you reach your goal, be it a lifting capacity or a certain look.

So many of these motivators tell you to ‘do’.

I find that more often it is deciding, knowing, what must be done that requires a push.

Somethings are painfully easy to know, but there are still plenty of people in the world who may struggle with it. Most of us know that if we are hungry, we should eat. Likewise, if we eat, we should stop at a point of having satisfied our hunger. Yet, some of us also have conflicted motivations. If we seek to lose weight, we tell ourselves not to eat in some cases where hunger asks us otherwise. If there is not enough food in the pot to make leftovers, but more than I really wanted to put in my bowl, I may take and eat the extra half-serving anyhow. So as not to ‘waste’ the food.

In these little situations, we believe we know what must be done.

Yet, we’re conflicted by two knowings. Frequently, the easier thing to ‘do’ is the thing that wins out. Easier might not mean physically. A person may find it easier physically to ask someone for help carry a load, but psychologically that is a daunting task. And as such, they carry the load themselves, the ‘easier’ thing to do. In these tiny daily examples, we cause ourselves inconveniences and consternation that are relatively trivial compared to the knots we tie ourselves in on things that matter.

When something is important to us we make a mess of knowing.

We can find knowing what to do to border on impossible. There is a lot of research about decision making and decision paralysis in contemporary psychological literature. When faced with many similar options we find it difficult to compare them. It takes cognitive energy to find differences and then decide on the significance of those differences. When we are faced with very dissimilar options, we can have a hard time reconciling the vastly different consequences that the decisions may have. Also, when faced with few distasteful options, we may initially reject them all together and seek something else. We seek another option we don’t have presented, or we seek to separate ourselves by not making a decision.

When we decide, it seems to me, that we have only a couple results:

  • We’ve decided long ago and are seeking our justifying signal in the presented options.
  • We apply our imagination to simulate what the consequences may be for each option.
  • We cannot decide and allow the ‘non-action’ option to come into play.

Sometimes these can occur together, such as ruling out some options by heuristic and then projecting the results of the remaining.

But frequently we go with non-action.

There are some, albeit dubious, benefit to this. If we choose to be passive, and allow the non-action, default to occur, we can claim to ourselves, blamelessness. We can save ourselves the mental energy of working it out, and any physical action that needs to be taking can be avoided. Further, the consequences can be explained away as a matter-of-fact. In this way, we settle for careers and relationships that were not of the type we dreamed of when we were younger. We look in the mirror and ‘accept’ ourselves passively as if we have no responsibility or impact on what we see. We continue the same path even though it keeps circling back over and over, because deciding on another path is effort-full and difficult.

This is the crux of the difference.

The difficulty between knowing what must be done and doing what must be done. It is easy to call for help when someone is in distress. Believing that it is distress and knowing you must call for help is where people freeze up and fail. It is easy to take the physical steps of going for a walk, once you decide it must be done. For most people they do so constantly throughout a day. The decision long ago was made that when the bathroom calls, you stand, walk, and deal with it. When your job requires, you move to complete the next task, because the consequences of being paid is decidedly what you want.

The motivation we need, the guidance, is to make the decision that something MUST be done. The same as breathing must be done. The doing will handle itself because once you decide it MUST be done, well, there it is. Your motivation to start is right there in the word “must”. You may get it all conflated and confused, that you have to start doing something and need motivation to do it. Motivational speeches and prompts help you, but not to do anything. It creates a sense of empowerment and need. The reason so many tell you to chase what you love is because that is an easier thing for you to decide ‘must’ be done.

I suppose the trick is deciding that you must do something to progress yourself, and that the idle, passive, non-action things are what you must NOT do.