91.6

Eleven twelfths.  

One to go.

91.6% through what seemed, at times, and often, like a never-ending task.

***

I once thought that it might be fun to run every single day for an entire calendar year.

I tried this twice before… and failed both times.

The first time I tried to run every day for an entire calendar year, I gave up in January.

The second time I tried, I made it into mid-February.

This time, this year, here we are!

I just finished my final run in November.  I did a strong six-miler. I have completed eleven months of daily running without fail.  334 days in a row of running…

I’m now 11/12 through 2022.

There’s just 31 days to go…

***

December looms.

31 days.

I need to wake up 31 more mornings in a row with the determination and focus and the willingness to run.  On one hand, it’s easy.  I am focused.  I am determined.  I know I can do it.  But, it’s not always that easy…

It’s just not.

There’s a lot to do before one gets ready to run.  There’s a lot of opportunities to get distracted, to find reasons to do something else. 

Every day, every single day, provides an opportunity to stop – to quit.

I might be tired.  Or distracted. 

Recently, after the NYC Marathon, I found that I wasn’t all that motivated to run.  This task became a chore. I had worked hard to accomplish a big task (my 23rd marathon). Somewhere deep inside I felt I deserved a break. A day off. I, obviously, didn’t give myself that luxury.

Have you ever done something day-after-day-after day?  It can get old.  It can get tedious. It’s not easy.

But at the same time, while you might be stuck in a routine and wish to find every… or ANY… excuse to avoid a task, there’s also a sense of glory and achievement and pride and wonder in seeing it through, to the end, and getting the job done.

Each day is a step forward.

Each run, a success.

Each time I log my distance on my running calendar I know that I’ve done something amazing, something special. I often give thanks to God just for having the ability to run.

I don’t always run fast.  Sometimes it’s a slog.  Sometimes it hurts.  And sometimes it’s just not fun.  But I do it.  I do it because I want to. And I do it because I have to. 

Especially now, to not do it, now that I am 91.6% of the way through this journey would be a personal disaster. It would signify a gigantic failure.

One doesn’t come this far to quit.

At this point, I would never be satisfied saying I made it through eleven months.  I’d never be content to say, I got awfully close.  No.  That’s just not good enough.  Not by a longshot.  No way.

One doesn’t come this far to fail.  

***

People ask, “How far do you have to run each day to have the day count?”  As I set out on this task, I determined that one mile would suffice.  But, I knew I also didn’t want to use that as an easy way to get through this. I didn’t want a year of one-mile runs.

I’m proud to say that I only fell back to the one mile minimum just two times this year.  

I hurt my back in late February and only managed 1.17 miles on February 27…

And I overdid my training in early June because I was leading a field day activity at my school.  On June 13, with very tired and sore legs and knowing that I’d be leading the kids in dances for an entire morning, I only managed a 1.10 mile run. If you’ve ever spent an entire morning dancing Cotton Eye Joe and other songs with elementary school kids, you’d understand.

There were plenty of times this year, when I covered just two miles, but, even those runs weren’t very often.  It was fewer than twice a month for the most part.

So far, all told, I’ve run 1,547 miles this year.  That says something… I’m averaging a little better than 4.6 miles a day.  Sure, there have been a few easier days, but some of those two-mile runs weren’t so easy either.  The 2.25 miles I did the day after the marathon on very heavy legs weren’t the most graceful miles I ever ran, and it seemed to take forever, but I did it and that’s what counts.

It’s about just getting it done.

Doing it…

And getting it done.

***

Once this year is over, I will have hopefully completed a personal challenge I set for myself many years ago – a challenge that I have failed at many times. Sure I actually tried this task twice. But there were plenty of other years where I didn’t have the focus or even the courage to try. I’m sure I thought about it those years, but I avoided the task because it seemed too daunting, too massive, too big… too hard.

And, no, I don’t ever see myself doing this again.

But there will be other goals.

Other challenges.

Because, to me, this is what life is about.

When we push ourselves to limits we’ve never before experienced, we become, in profound ways, different people.  We gain confidence.  We develop an understanding of ourselves.  We acquire the knowledge that we can overcome.  When faced with difficult tasks, in any realm, we know that we have the strength and the ability to find a way to succeed.

And, no, this isn’t about running. It’s about everything. It’s about living one’s live to the fullest.

We can set all sorts of goals, and I do…

It can be about eating better (something I fail at often).

It can be about reading more.

It can be about making the time to call a friend or practice a musical instrument.  

It can be breaking a bad habit or setting a new and better one.

It can be about striving to smile more or frown less.  

It can be about finding time to reflect or meditate or pray.

It can be about writing daily in an attempt to finish a story or a novel or… anything.

It can be about getting those darn reports for work in on time every day for a week, a month, or a year. Or even just once!

The task itself doesn’t matter, what matters is setting the goal and working to achieve it.

That’s where the value comes.  That’s where we find out who we are and what we can do. And once we find that we can achieve, we don’t ever stop. Once one can achieve, the limits, to everything, are boundless.

***

I’m almost there.  

Eleven twelfths.

91.6%.

I can do this. And I plan to.

And I will.  

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