Mark, The Blogfather and my new favorite person, wrote a post not too long ago about run he had that was sub-optimal for him. He ended that post by asking the question “Had any humble pie lately? ” That got me to thinking about my particular answer which came out a resounding “Yes!” I eat humble pie every single time I go for a run, a ride or a swim. Every.single.time.
I am not a performance athlete. I didn’t even begin my life as a casual athlete until I was in my late 30s when I started running. I started swimming in my mid-40s and I started riding my bike last summer in my early 50s so at some level I’m a rookie. At every level my performance is, on a good day, middle of pack-ish. I spend my swims eating other people’s bubbles and my rides watching my riding partner’s backs.
I don’t fault myself for that – I am kind and loving when I’m not beating myself up for being a weiner.
I have had to work hard to come to grips with what has always felt like a lack of talent. It took me a really long time to appreciate my efforts at all – to recognize that just getting out there and doing what it takes to cover the distance really does count. That was in spite of all of the kudos I got from just about everyone I know. Lately I’ve even been pleased with my efforts because I have started working harder and it seems to be paying off. My times are better and I feel better after I finish.
Until recently my routine was to eat my humble pie, lace up my shoes or get in the saddle or pull on my goggles and then go out and just sort of run or swim or pedal. I often thought of Signorney Weaver playing Lt. Tawny Madison in Galaxy Quest shouting, “Look! I have one job on this lousy ship, it’s *stupid*, but I’m gonna do it, okay? ” the parallel being “Look! I have one job on this lousy ship, it’s *hard* and I’m not that great at it , but I’m gonna do it, okay? ”
I could talk about how lots of people never get past “I could never do that!” which is what I said about running a marathon when I first started running. I didn’t even want to get past that feeling and then, somehow, and I can’t for the life of me remember how this happened, I signed up with Team in Training and I did it – I ran a marathon. 6 years later I turned 50 so I ran another marathon and my time was worse – by 8 minutes.
Now I’m training for another marathon because I believe I can do better. I believe I can work and train and focus on my weaknesses (form and lack of strength) and run a marathon in just under 5 hours. Since I’ve started trying harder and started getting better I’m eating less humble pie and focusing more on the next little mini-goal, the next triumph.
I’m sure there will be many more days when I eat humble pie and feel discouraged but finally, after years and years of begrudgingly continuing to go the distance in spite of my limitations I’m starting to feel like I am reaching for my potential and that tastes a whole lot better than even the most lovingly baked humble pie. Besides, I need to save some room for the tater-tots!