Mile 25: Visualizing the Finish Line and vaya con dios (for now)

(Blogger‘s Note: This is the first in a three-part series, “vaya con dios for now” about my decision to put the blog aside for a time. It may be a week, a month or several. There’s no map to follow. I’ll continue reading the posts of my many friends and admiring your great work because you inspire me. In the meantime, I’ll be glad to host guest posts while on sabbatical. Feel free to submit your idea any time along the way. ~ steve)

***

Not too many years ago, I was consumed with weight loss and running.

The short version of the story is that I woke up one day, stepped on the scales and weighed an unbelievable 248 pounds. And as my personality tends to do at certain points in life, I said, “That’s enough.”

It began with a strict diet, and a few weeks later I walked to the mailbox down the street. Next thing I knew I’d made it 3 miles in 30 minutes and the pounds melted away.

December 5, 2006 at the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. I had no idea there was a photographer anywhere in sight and wouldn’t have cared anyway. This photo was taken at Mile 25 and all I cared about was rounding the corner to see the finish line.

A few months later, when I hit the 10-mile mark, a new goal emerged and I realized the elusive 26.2 marathon (with a LOT more training) was doable.

It’s the curse of an obsessive-compulsive-self-competitive personality. You choose to do something until it nearly kills you.

And even though a new goal was born out of the effort to lose weight, the first goal was achieved. Obsessive-compulsiveness took me from 248 to 165 in about nine months.

***

Now, it’s one thing to run 10 miles. It’s an entirely different thing to tackle the 26-mile marathon. It’s the equivalent of walking around the block and then thinking to one’s self: “I think I’ll climb Mt. Everest.”

My best estimate is that I trained just more than 6,000 miles in running three marathons over an 18-month period.

I read a lot of books about different ways to train, and one of the techniques I adopted was visualization.

When a runner has trained up to 10 miles, the 26 seems insurmountable, so she must learn to visualize herself crossing that finish line. If you can teach your mind to see it, you can do it because the mind and the soul can overcome that to which the body says “no.”

On every morning’s training run, my mind would actually see my feet crossing the finish line. I could see what I was wearing, think about how it would feel (in theory) and visualize my family and friends congratulating me at the end with a medal around my neck.

***

Over the course of a 26-mile race the mind has lots of time to think, and in my first marathon (the St. Jude Memphis Marathon) there was a point somewhere around mile 20 where my heart began to ask my body a lot of questions.

  • What in the world were you thinking?
  • What are you trying to prove, and to whom are you trying to prove it?
  • Don’t ever do this again.

It’s a good thing really. The questions a first-time marathoner has for himself around mile 20 are a good mental distraction at the point where the body experiences total depletion and continues on with heart when the body has nothing left.

So you just keep running.

Miles 20 to mile 25 of the St. Jude Memphis Marathon were an excruciating experience, but at 25 the pain went away and all I wanted to do was finish.

***

Nine months ago, I began writing a book, and the manuscript’s now about 75 percent complete. I think it’s a good work with some value in the marketplace. Things were going along well for a few months, and then I became distracted.

During the study of how to publish a book successfully, I came across this notion many have that an unknown author (that would be me) must have a successful social media platform to even have a chance of breaking through the publishing fog.

So I took a break from book writing and became a student of the platform.

And I found I loved the platform building as much, or more, than the book writing.

It’s a terrible thing to have an obsessive-compulsive-easily-distracted-move-on-to-the-next challenge type of personality. But that’s my problem, and hopefully not yours.

***

I love the blogosphere and everything about it. I truly do love it. Nothing thrills me more to see I’ve had a reader in a country I didn’t even know existed. It’s an honor to be read by anyone, anywhere, anytime.

But oh, the distraction of immediate self-gratification vs. the long-term project that awaits in an 8-inch thick folder in my office, and in the jump drive’s tiny confines.

The last few weeks of blogging have been great fun. Ideas for posts seem to come from everywhere I look. Readers seem to have enjoyed certain pieces, and my ego’s been bolstered.

But this could go on forever.

***

The first book in my Light series is at mile 25. For a time, the writing depleted me and I asked myself all kinds of questions. I wrote a good bit, but allowed myself (not without reward) to become blog distracted. It’s time to refocus and visualize crossing the finish line for Light Wins.

I can feel the final push. The finish line’s just a mile away.

(Next Post: Thanks for Letting Me Live Vicariously Through You.)

-30-

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7 thoughts on “Mile 25: Visualizing the Finish Line and vaya con dios (for now)

  1. I can relate to so much of this. Just yesterday at my triathlon at mile 2 of the run, I had the same thought. Why do I do this? What makes me think this miserable experience is fun??? And then when I crossed the finish line, I remembered why. Good luck getting over the final mile. We’ll be here whenever you come back to visit. Thanks for all your support and encouragement!

  2. That was a really great post and you’re an amazing guy! We are very similar. Ten years ago I decided to go to grad school one day while riding the subway to work. It just had to happen right then and that became my focus. I understand why you need to take a break blogging to complete your book also. I have a hard time quitting something I’ve started too. You need to finish first before you can move on to the next project. Good luck. I look forward to your book and I look forward to your return to blogging.

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