Saturday, 9 June 2012

Blog #2 Running is like a wife

So, I am recovering from my injury and gradually building up the mileage. Two weeks ago I started up with a 30 mile week, last week was 50, and this week I'll be at about 65. The goal is to get back up to 100 by July, but I must be cautious. My right lower back (SI joint) is healed, but my left groin feels sore after runs and the pain goes away by the next day, so I can't really run twice a day yet. I know from experience not to run through groin pain, so I must be careful. I have been told this pain is likely due to over compensation which leads to muscle imbalances, so now I have to massage my right side also. My life is pretty boring now though. I'm just working at home on the dairy farm, milking cows and filling silos and stuff like that. I also help out a bit with a new running group that my old coach started. My brother in grade 9 is starting in there also. The club I trained for in high school was Niagara Olympic Club in St Catharines, but now the one coach I am helping out has split from NOC and moved to Welland under the name Aktiv Racing. It wasn't the first time a coach has split off from NOC and started their own club. With all this splitting its almost like they are a church or something. One exciting thing I look forward to is that I am again planning on going to Christian Altitude camp in Mammoth Lakes, California for the 4th straight year. I need something to look forward to this summer and I can't think of a better way to spend my Around the Bay winnings. I went there for the first time after my sophomore year at Campbell, and I would say it was probably one of the better decisions I made in life so far. Everyone there shares the same love I have for running and the Christian faith. The community is awesome, the scenery is awesome, not to mention the training benefits you get from altitude.

My coach at Campbell once told us that running should be like a wife. I like that analogy. I like it because similar to a wife, running is important to me, but God is the center of the relationship. There may be some days that you love her more than others, but you are committed to her through tough times and good times. Not every day am I super excited to run, but at the end of the day I see the bigger picture and it drives me to stay committed. Also, in some circumstances i'm told, it could be considered healthy to take a break from your wife for a short time. My injury forced me to take about a month off, and during that time I really realized how much I missed her and love her, and now as I start to slowly build up mileage again I have an even greater appreciation for her....

Aagh, hopefully one day I will get a real wife. In God's good timing I trust he will show me the right one. I do think that my perseverance, determination, and sometimes obsessive nature played a big role in where I am today as a runner. I'm guessing it could also play handy in a marriage in the future. An example of when this attribute can be a drawback is if I become interested in a girl. If I'm not careful and things go bad, my strength could become my weakness in a hurry. A lot of people these days say they have attention deficit disorder. Their mind just goes all over the place. As for me, I have the exact opposite. My mind can stay in the same place for a long time! A good quality for distance running, but in some cases, this can get me into a bit of trouble. (mainly when something else becomes the center of my life instead of God) I suppose it is my spiritual weakness, but it can also be a strength, so hopefully God can lead me in situations where that attribute is a strength. That is what I pray anyways.

As I was injured, I did some reflecting on how God used unlikely situations to guide me down the road he wanted me to go. I can think of 2 such  situations, and they both remind me how God has a divine plan for my life:

First was in grade 10, before I even trained seriously, but I still ran track. It was the first qualifying meet of the season and I had already been eliminated in the 1500. My last chance was the 3000. I thought to myself that  if I couldn't make it, maybe there would be no point in doing track again next year. I barely made it, getting the last qualifying spot. At the next meet, SOSSA, I got the 5th and final spot again, and would move on to regionals. Next meet I had a chance to make provincials(OFSAA), but I would have to be top 4. I ended up getting 7th, but it was pretty close, and it motivated me to train seriously with Niagara Olympic Club next year. Plus there were cute girls there to increase my motivation all the more. (Although being quiet and socially awkward, I didn't really stand a chance) But if I hadn't made it through the first meet, I probably would have got discouraged, and I never would've started training seriously. My life would be completely different right now. God had a divine purpose for me to start running seriously!

A second thing that was pretty cool happened last year. After graduating from Campbell, I was contemplating staying in the U.S. somewhere for grad school, but opted to accept a qualifying year offer from Waterloo Univeristy in Ontario for Pure Math. Basically I had to take a few 3rd year courses to see if I could handle a masters program. I just applied there because I liked math and wanted to continue with it, and I knew Waterloo was known for their math program. I just sort of picked Pure math naively, not realizing that it is the most brutal form of math there is. I don't know why they decided to accept me, even as a qualifying student, since only the brightest of the brightest students even attempt these classes, but somehow they did, and there was a divine reason for it. But let me tell you, that first month or so of school was a tough, depressing time for me. I was completely lost in all my classes, and I really missed my old teammates at Campbell. After one week I came in to my adviser's office almost in tears. She told me the feeling was completely normal, and that if I keep at like I did in running, I could make it through. But she was so naive to how naive I was. Seriously, if you understand less than 10% of what the prof is telling you, and the prof says something like "but this is all review for you isn't it?", you're in trouble. In hindsight it should've been an easy decision to drop out immediately, but my advisor insisted I hold it out. One thing I did have going for me was I was running incredibly well. I had just run a huge personal best in the half marathon. I had also run a 40 second PB in the 10k the previous month. Since I was running so well, my new training partners, Adam and Derek, encouraged me to run the Toronto Zoo run/Canadian 10k Championships since they used that to come up with a team for the Chiba Ekiden relay in Japan. They had been on the team last year so they knew about that. It turns out it was not the official qualifying race, but they definitely looked at it. I came 6th, and most of the top guys ahead of me were focusing on Toronto Waterfront Marathon and would pass on Ekiden. Reid Coolsaet actually congratulated me on facebook about my race, and I replied asking if he knew anything about the selection process for Ekiden. He told me who to contact from Athletics Canada, and that's what I did. I found out later from the coaches on that trip that me being proactive about it played a deciding role in them taking a chance in a young runner nobody heard of before over other older runners who might have been a bit quicker than me. It was an answer to prayer, and it aided in my decision to drop out of school, which was a stress I needed God to relieve me from...because I needed something else to focus on when I dropped out. When I was depressed, I asked God to make it really obvious what I should do with these classes, and when this opportunity came up, I knew there was no way I could go on this trip AND do these classes that were already seeming impossible to me. I talked to one of my profs that week asking for his advice. He was much more realistic with me. He said I had a lot of guts to try what I did with so little math background, but basically told me I wasn't a super genius, and therefore it was pretty much impossible for me to pass these courses. It would kind of be like a Campbell football player thinking he could make it in the NFL, or a 16 minute 5k runner thinking he can make the Olympics. Waterloo takes in 1000's of top math students from high school, but only the top 30 or so make it to the advanced classes they had me attempt. HOW DID I GET ACCEPTED??? I DON'T KNOW!!! Anyways, he advised me to sit in on some stats classes and take some courses as a non degree student the next term. So that's what I did. So, the answer from God was pretty clear: should I go to Japan  and do something I love and really enjoy, or stay here doing something that I am struggling with and not enjoying at all? Tough decision eh? But seriously, this opportunity came at a perfect time. Had I not went to Waterloo or Had I not been running well or had I not met my training partners or had I not been proactive in trying to get on the team, this opportunity wouldn't have happened. Clearly a sign of God's divine purpose.

And when times are tough or when I am confused on what I should do next, it's nice to reflect on moments like that because it reminds me of God's divine purpose, and allows me to relax more and trust in him.

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