The beginnings of all things are small. CiceroPhoto: Bob MacGillivray
Don’t let the smile in the picture fool you. While it reveals the deep satisfaction of having just completed a glorious extended jaunt in the San Juans, it also masks the overall haggardness of my physical self. The last thing I wanted to do in that moment was think about getting up the following day to go for a run. However, on January 1, 2011 I’d made a small, somewhat silly pact with myself, that I’d run at least a mile ever single day of the year. In retrospect it was probably a blessing that I was limping along the creek path in Boulder when I made that decision. I was still recovering from a fried popliteus muscle from running in circles for 24 hours just 12 days earlier. I was sick of sitting around waiting for it to heal, so I started running again. I was happy and motivated to be back out on the trail, but also tentative and not overly ambitious. One mile or a 15 minute minimum every day seemed reasonable and I was curious to see how long I could keep it going. I knew that inevitably a “Hardrock moment” would come about. As life plays its course I’d have to cater for the unexpected and make sure that no matter what I’d get it done, whether it’s a beer mile, airport mile, infirm mile.
“How big are your burgers?” I asked with the crazed look of a lunatic. “Well, how much money you got?” replied the even more wild eyed cook of the Ouray burger joint. I hesitate, not quite sure how to respond to that. “I’m just pretty hungry.” “I’ll add jalapenos and bacon and you’ll be alright.”
Indeed, I was, for a short time at least. The burger had followed an ever so disappointing serving of fro-yo soft serve when
and I had left Silverton on our way back to Boulder. Several more stops were needed to satisfy my famished post hundred mile state. By the time we reached Frisco, I’d eaten enough to feed a small village and felt about as lousy as you’d expect. Somehow, TK convinced me of the virtues of the Frisco bike path as an optimal place to get in my mile. He crutched off one way with dog and I hobbled down the other in my button down and jeans. Passers by looked at me weirdly. I greeted them with the usual
and wave like everything was normal. Back at the car, I waited an agonizing 3 minutes for TK to return as the food inside me got stimulated and rebelled from the 15 minute trot. Another day, another mile.
I limp past the front desk, sporting my shortest shorts, ankle wrapped. It’s 4:30am, a couple days after UTMB. The woman working the late night shift at the Geneva hotel looks at me, perplexed. “I’m going to run for a bit around the parking lot.” “OK,” is all she says. 48 hours prior, I was lying on my back in the mud, agonizing over my fat penguin foot, pain shooting up my sciatica. Less than 2 hours of running and UTMB was over. However, the streak had to go on. I make my rounds in the parking lot, groggy, cotton mouthed, with a slight feeling of nausea from the lack of sleep. At 4:45am as I make my way back inside, I catch the croissant delivery guy who kindly offers up the goods, fresh from the bakery. Things really aren’t so bad after all. Another day, another mile.
My grandfather passed away this year, so my family took a trip out to Indiana in the fall for his memorial. After a day of sorting through papers and other personal effects, I felt emotionally drained. At 11:30pm, I hadn’t thought about running all day and at this point it seemed justifiable to a miss a run, just this once. I didn’t though. I slipped out into the night and ran my mile around the lake in my flip flops. I let loose. I cried. Another day. Another mile.
Maintaining a streak has on many occasions felt absurd, yet as I sit here writing this on the last day of 2011, I can't help but feel a deep sense of satisfaction and gratitude for what I’ve learned along the way. There’s something special about devoting, even the smallest amount of time, each day to something that you love. In many ways, it is no longer a question as to whether or not I will run today, but rather about the excitement and anticipation of what the run will bring. Fifteen minutes, one mile, one year, time and distance are self-defined arbitrary measures of success, but the act of getting out there each and every day, taking that step, is truly what matters. And, if I can show this unwavering dedication to something as trivial as running, can I not also show a similar reverence to others and other areas of my life? The best thing you can give to anyone is time. Here’s to 2012 and another good year.