The definition of endurance is “the power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.”
The definition of perseverance is “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”
The initial draw to running was that feeling of winning a race. I loved the purity of a footrace and seeing if I could get to the finish line before my competitors. I remember reading some of Steve Prefontaine’s quotes and identifying with his competitive drive.
“To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.” – Steve Prefontaine
“Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it ” – Steve Prefontaine
I still enjoy pushing my body to its limits and letting my competitive nature take over. I still enjoy the purity of a footrace and testing my endurance. However, today I understand that when I run a race I am building much more than just physical endurance. When I run a race, I am building perseverance. Perseverance does something in our character, deep within our spirits, that makes us better people. James 1:4 says “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Although Perseverance and Endurance have very similar definitions, in sport related terms, endurance refers mostly to our body’s physical capabilities. Once you you’ve reached your endurance limits, your body begins to break down. But what is it that drives a person to the finish line when their body has already gone past the point of its endurance limits? I believe it is the perseverance in the spirit and mind of man that keeps him going. Beyond physical capabilities, the spirit of man can stay strong and will them to continue moving forward. It is an inspiring thing to see someone persevere and make it to the finish line when their physical capabilities have told them to quit.
Perseverance has many other benefits as well. For example, it has taught an impatient man, like myself, to have faith and hope that good things will come from struggle and difficulty. It has chipped away at pride and selfishness of wanting every race to go well and has helped keep me from dropping out of races that weren’t going well. It’s easy to run a race when your body is at its peak fitness and you are accomplishing your goals. But to commit to finishing a race when things aren’t going well takes courage, strength, and lots of perseverance!
The apostle Paul said, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” What a blessing to be able to get more out of sport and training than just the physical. I get to choose each day where I find value and where I will put my heart. It is by choice that I want to focus on the shaping of character and get more out my endurance training. I want running to continue to be a positive influence on every aspect of my life.
4/11/16 – I actually wrote most of this post a week before Lake Somona and it has been neat to look back at what I wrote and see if I could actually put it into action. It is one thing to know how to better oneself intellectually and another thing to actually live it out. Why is this? Because it usually takes suffering to break a weakness or a character issue. At some point you have to be unselfish and put some effort into it if you want change. Here is a quick summary of what happened leading up to the race and during it.
After struggling with a hip issue for 6 weeks I was able to get through Chuckanut 50k successfully and excited to have run a great race there. I was able to put in another 30 mile training run the following weekend and planned to take an easy week two weeks out before Lake Sonoma, since i’d be at an orphanage in Guatemala for a few days.
Things were looking great….until I got sick again. This time it was the cold. Two days out from the race I wasn’t sure if I should start the race. I knew if I started the race I could not make excuses and the responsibility was on me. I was afraid the same thing would happen again as in the Bandera 100k. I kept replaying how painful it was there to run with a cough, headache, and low energy levels. My biggest fear was just not making it to the finish line.
Lake Sonoma 50
Race morning I woke up and my respiratory system felt better. I started to feel a lot more optimistic about finishing the race and decided to give it a go. As hard as I tried to stay positive through the first 25 miles, I can admit, there were a few rough patches. There were thoughts about dropping out and some whining about the circumstances I was in. It was between miles 15-17 where the breakthrough finally happened. I made the commitment to just run the best I could on this day and to focus on finishing the race that was in front of me. I was running in 5th place and kept praying for the ability to push through my weaknesses and negative thoughts. It was here that I realized the opportunity I had ahead. I had the opportunity to learn perseverance and to strengthen my character. If I run to glorify God with my best effort each time, i can’t fail.
Lake Sonoma 50 is a beautiful race. You are always going up or down over the green grass hills and the middle 10 miles of the race you hit 3 big climbs. By the time we hit this section I had embraced the challenge and I was now enjoying the familiar faces and the encouragement from my wife to keep going.
At the 25 mile mark Jim Walmsey had a huge lead. I was still running with Matt Flaherty at that point and knew that Daniel Metzger was less than a minute behind us. I wasn’t sure how far Dylan Bowman was in front of us but I wanted to give it all I had to get on the podium. The next 8 miles were pretty solid for me. I moved into a strong 4th position, and knew I was picking up the pace. My climbing legs were not there so I pushed all the downhills and stayed focused on keeping my rhythm up on the rolling single track. I believe it was around mile 38 that I caught glimpse of Dylan. I closed fast on him thinking he’d let me fly right by him but I was wrong. Dylan rallied back really strong. Each climb I could see he was only 40 seconds or so back and I was not gaining on him. The race was on for the last podium spot!!!
At the last aid station with 4.6 miles to go I saw Dylan come in just as I was leaving. Knowing he would be in and out of it quick I figured I had maybe 30 seconds on him. It was time to dig deep on the next few miles of climbing. I stayed calm and kept pushing on the climbs. As the time kept clicking and I could not see Dylan anymore, I thought I had finally dropped him. But with one mile to go Dylan catches back up to me quickly and flies right by shifting into his kick. He is moving really fast for having run 49 miles already, and immediately my adrenaline kicked in. I told myself I had not suffered this much to let him go without a fight. I shifted into my kick and hung right behind him. With a half a mile to go I passed on the inside and just shifted into sprinting mode without looking back. It wasn’t until 200 meters to go that I realized I had put some distance and that I was going to secure 3rd place. It was a really awesome battle that I will never forget and I give big thanks to Dylan. Those last 100 meters I just let it all sink in and gave thanks for the chance to cross another finish line. For me, this race was a huge victory, much more than the 3rd place and the western states qualifier, and for that I give thanks.
Thank you irunfar for the interview
What I used during the race:
nike zoom kigers (www.nikerunning.com)
4 hammer bars and 6 hammer gels (www.hammernutrition)
Enduropacks Sugar Free Electrolyte Replacement (www.enduropacks.com)
1 20 oz bottle tucked into tights that I switched out 3 times during race