Running. The original mode of getting somewhere quickly. Or at least a little quicker than walking. It is a natural movement. Running is one of the first things we try as children, to measure ourselves against other children. Who is faster? I always thought I was really fast, and at one point, I probably was. Not so much any more. Today, speed has been traded for distance.
All that being said, I hate running. It's hard. If you know me, that might sound strange. I mean, I do run. I just hate doing it. Next logical question; Why do I do it? Aside from the obvious cardiovascular benefits, I experience quite a few mental benefits as well. I get to think in a free flowing manner. Thoughts come in, they stay for a minute, and then they leave. It is a moving meditation for me, much in the same way as yoga is a moving meditation. As much as I might dislike it, running gives me the ability to nearly disconnect my mind from my body. I am always aware that my legs are moving, that I am hot, sweating, and breathing hard but, it is as if I am watching myself from above as I run. Running pushes me outside of my comfort zone in a way that is different from other physically demanding activities. When I surf, I am connected to my board and I can feel the ocean underneath me. I have pushed myself to near exhaustion surfing but, at the end of the session I am never more than a block or two from where I started. I have absolutely surfed breaks that have pushed me in many ways but that doesn't happen every time I get in the water. Especially here on Folly beach, where we pray for waves, even small waves on a daily basis. When I decide I need to get out and run, I may hit my breaking point eight or nine miles from where I started. At that moment, my comfort zone is eight or nine miles back in the other direction, and the only way to get back there is to run. It is an exercise in pumping mental iron. Getting my mind strong enough to push my body past its limit only comes from deciding over and over, that my comfort zone, restricts my mortal experience.
I often wonder what I would be doing had I never decided to leave my comfort zone. Of course I can't say for certain where I would be but, I can guess I would still be at home in Ohio. A place that I love. A place that I am so proud and happy to be from, but for me, was never going to give me the challenges and opportunities that I needed to realize my potential. As I reflect on my early 20's, it amazes me that I ever decided to leave. Hindsight being 20/20, I look back and I can see where I could have made 1000 different moves. Each of those could have led me somewhere different. But, I wouldn't be who I am, right now, at this very moment. I would not trade any of my experiences for anything. The good, and the bad.
So I run. I run and I contemplate. I run and I think of everything and nothing all at the same time. I hit my breaking points, the very boundaries of my comfort zone, and crawl, walk, stumble, or run through those boundaries. A better version of me is on the other side.
November 6, 2022, Andy Manzi and myself will be running in the New York Marathon on behalf of The Semper Fi Fund and Warrior Surf Foundation. I am excited to see how far past my limitations I can go.
These pictures are from a 55k I ran in Antelope Canyon Arizona in March of 2019. It was an ass-kicker to say the least.