Undertaking “the same” experience is rarely the same even in the most normal of times. I’m typically trying to improve something. It might be as simple as my enjoyment of an experience or more commonly some facet of my performance. This is consistent with my praise process, progress, and particulars which I’ve shared on this blog before.
I know the process to train for a marathon and specifically for the Boston Marathon, as this is the seventh time I prepare to undertake the heralded event. I’ve had both success and struggles and no doubt each year affords a collection of varied aspects which highlight the unique qualities of the individual undertaking.
My first race was in honor of my former guide dog Quinn one year after cancer took my marvelous boy from me all too soon. I thought it unlikely a more emotional race would come for me until last year’s virtual run had the double dose of despair when my sweet guide dog Autumn was abruptly taken by a different cancer just two days before my race. Deciding with my guide Rodney to run it in her honor, tragedy struck again with the loss of Rodney’s brother-in-law Joe the next day. I ran the Boston course, hills and all, via the iFit program on my treadmill from my front porch since it was too late to rework another guide.
This year, COVID-19 realities have pushed the race once more into the fall, the first official fall running of the race. It will take place on October 11, one day after my 11th wedding anniversary. At age 55, I’ll have an opportunity to compete for the first time that a B1/T11 (totally blind) division is a podium division for the race.
There is no age break for my gray hair but I’m eager for the new opportunity and the challenge. A short soft-tether requirement will be an entirely new experience as well and I’ve spent the summer working on the new approach. I’ll even add a brand-new-to-me guide in Brandyn Naro. His good humor, enthusiastic approach to life and running have made for some quality work already. The fact he’s barely broken a sweat and has yet to breathe hard while training with me isn’t disheartening for me as it ensures he’ll be ready to give all the additional verbal instructions the new tether suggests.
The truth is, I’m not convinced yet everything changing in our world will allow the marathon to take place. I’m training with the hope it will and encouraged by many aspects of the process so far. I’ll be as ready as I can having learned so much from the people and processes involved in the past. I know there are always the known and the unpredictable variables of an experience and so I’ll prepare with the flexibility and contingencies to best allow me to once again strive to get the most out of this experience. I’ll work hard to succeed by every measure of that word, in my process, my progress and all the particularly likely to yield a quality performance and an enjoyable experience.
As my friend Coach Dave Salvas suggests, my goal time is to have the time of my life. There may be a few other numbers on my mind and in my plans as well but savoring the experiences is a fundamental part of the journey. This is true when things are the same, totally different, or both at the same time like this year’s Boston Marathon.