Back in January when I was able to finally kick my shin splint issues and really start training seriously for Boston a friend of mine asked me a question that I knew I would eventually have to answer.
“When you’re done with the two marathons for Dom, what are you going to do next?”
At the time I brushed the question aside with a quick, “Well, I’ve got so many things to concentrate on between now and then, I’m really not thinking that far ahead right now. When I get to that point, I’m sure it will be clear.”
As I’ve said many times before in this space, I truly believe that the only way that I know to reach a “big goal” is to break it down into bite-sized chunks. What was it that Confucius said - a journey of a thousand miles begins with just a single step? I really believe that. If you fixate too much on the “end of the line” not only will you miss out on some really cool stuff along the way, but for some, they simply won’t even try.
If my Marathon training schedule that I placed on the “magic fridge” back in December had 20 weeks of blanks squares on it and simply had a 26.2 on April 19th and another 26.2 on May 2nd – I seriously doubt I would have had a finisher’s medal to hand over to Dom in Pittsburgh. It was important to map out each and every day between December 28th and May 29th – so that when times got difficult – I knew exactly what I needed to do that day to stay on course and not lose site of the big picture.
For me the process of chasing a challenge is as simple as spending some time developing the plan and then working that plan until you reach your goal. My experience is that without hard work and “sticktoitiveness” things don’t normally just “work out”.
The world out there is a cruel place – no doubt about it. It hits harder than anyone or anything out there. It will knock you down and keep you down if you let it. So for me it is about always finding a way and a reason to get back up and keep getting back up that separates those who achieve in life from those who do not.
Deep down I have always known that to be true, but seeing the struggles that Dom has gone through over the past year has really galvinized my thoughts on the subject. Every time another blow has come his way he has taken a breath, gathered his thoughts and his strength and gotten back up. His resolve and courage has been truly amazing to witness. I am so very proud to call him a friend.
Lately the hits have been coming a lot more frequently for Dom and his family. Those hits have also been hitting harder and harder with more force behind them. Just last week Dom was back in the hospital to have a stent placed in each kidney to relieve pressure that was building up and causing him debilitating back pain. Going into surgery quite frankly we were all very afraid for Dom in his weakened condition from all of his previous treatments and surgeries. Once again, Dom fought the good fight, got back up and is back home with his family.
Dom is gathering strength once again for the next round to take the fight back to his cancer and hopefully this time kick it to the curb once and for all.
Even though we have reached our fundraising goal and “Run for Dom” has crossed its finished line – by no means are we done. Racing this past weekend in Dom’s honor in Austin and then dragging my tail through a 10-mile training run the next day continues to make me feel like I am on the right path.
Marathoners often talk about a “let down” or “post race depression” that occurs after a goal that you had been chasing for close to half a year abrubtly ends as you cross a finish line. It’s a real thing, you have to trust me on this. You fixate for so long on a goal that takes you hundreds and hundreds of training miles and countless hours to prepare for – and in a blink of an eye it is over.
Just as in life it is important to have something to look forward to, another challenge on the horizon. For me I always schedule four weeks of training after a race so that I recover properly and get back to my base line of weekly running. Typically 5 run days per week averaging somewhere between 28 and 35 miles.
From there I can ramp up if I need to for another half or full marathon or I can dial back if I am nicked up a bit and still maintain my fitness level.
This week it is time for me to take down the 24 week training plan I put up on the refrigerator six months ago as I fill in the final square on Sunday with a 12-mile run. Those six months will have taken us 1,200 miles of biking and running in 2 countries, 10 states and across four finish lines. That is all fine and well.
But the next finish line is the one that both Dom and I are concerned with right now. For Dom it is his next and hopefully final course of treatment to beat this thing once and for all.
For me it is the next training cycle, a nursery to paint, a child class to take, a day-care to find, foot rubs for Dawn when the TX summer starts to get to her and of course a little title to defend at the Holland, TX 5K.
So to answer the question that my friend asked many months ago, and many of you have asked since, “What’s next?”
I am going to continue to “do what I do” which is continue to try to be the best friend, husband, father, son and brother I can be. I will continue to run, blog, tweet, encourage and counsel those who are interested in our sport – and support my good friend in the fight of his life.
That sounds like a lot, and maybe it is. But there is one thing I know with great clarity and certainty. The only way to get there is one step at a time.