Tag Archives: letting go

Let Go of Expectations, Embrace the Adventure

THE BIG 100K is tomorrow! Training and tapering are over, and it’s time to do the deed. I’ve tested the course, my watch and headlamp are charged, and I’ve packed plenty of salted caramel Gu. No need to stress about anything; in fact, to stress about an event named “Run Woodstock” would be missing the point altogether.

So, naturally, I’m a little stressed.

Not about anything related to the course, the conditions, or anyone’s expectations of me. Instead, I’m fretting a little about living up to my own expectations. I expect to finish, and to have a decent finishing time, too. But what if, after all this time and preparation, I can’t do it after all?

No worries, man! Chill out and run!

No worries, man! Chill out and run!

As my (awesome) regular readers know, I came up short in my first 100K attempt last year. But I learned from it and made adjustments, and this year I feel much more prepared. And with a 28-hour window (we share the 100-miler clock) I can take my time and focus on finishing rather than hitting cutoff limits. Still, there’s that nagging self-wondering if I can really pull it off.

A couple of things have helped.

An article on the AirFareWatchdog site I read this week was very timely. It points out that when traveling, things often happen that are out of your control, and may affect where you go and when you get there. The article quotes author Anne Lamott, who said, Expectations are premeditated disappointments.

Gotta admit that’s profound, man. If we expect everything to go smoothly, or (heaven forbid) need everything to go smoothly, any deviation will be annoying at best. Even when we mentally prepare for changes or setbacks, we can get terribly frustrated when things don’t go our way.

The AirFareWatchdog article has this advice: Your experience has a higher likelihood of being one-of-a-kind and transformational if you let things happen. This is something Americans are often not very good at accepting but there’s a peace in letting go.

My great-uncle Albert shows us the value of this advice years ago. He traveled the world each summer, and in 1996 my wife and I were privileged to accompany him on a trip to England. He paid all expenses and we took care of his luggage and drove him around.

With no GPS back then, and the oddities of English roads, I naturally made some wrong turns. We always seemed to be heading toward South Wales, which became the joke of the trip. Albert waved off my apologies. “It’s all part of the adventure,” he said.

And then just earlier today, I dropped in at a talk on tips for running a marathon. Most of the advice I’d heard before, but one comment stood out – the need to “switch the brain off” when running a race. If there’s one thing that knocks a runner out of a race, or makes him fail to attain his goal, it’s the negative self-talk when things get tough.

There’s a physiological reason for this, we were told. The brain lives on glucose, and when supplies run low through hard physical effort, it attempts to slow the body down, long before the body is actually in danger of permanent damage. Elite athletes have learned to push past the pain and ignore the negative messages. I can run “on autopilot” for some time, but if I ever want to get to the holy grail – the 100 miler – I will have to improve here as well. So this race will be a good test.

Do I have to run this race? Nope. If I choose not to run it, or drop out partway, I will only be disappointing myself. In the end, any running race is a test of oneself. I can fret about what might happen, or I can let go of my expectations and just run. Which is what I plan to do. Part of the adventure!

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Ringing in the Changes

Continuing the stooooory from last time about my lost wedding ring and my attempt to make lemonade out of the proverbial lemon. Trouble is, I like lemons. But I digress. So what happened?

Some time ago I was introduced to the idea that we should never attach too much feeling to the objects we own; they wear out, are misplaced, or kids/cats break them. So the moment we acquire something, we should be prepared to say goodbye to it. (*) I believe this to be a very wise, even liberating outlook. So an emotionally mature, practical person should be able to accept the loss of a wedding ring and move on with his life.

I’m not there yet.

I’d actually lost the ring once before, on a friend’s lawn during a party. I’d returned a couple of days later with a rented metal detector and found it nestled deep in the grass. I now own a metal detector, so on Monday I charged it up and headed back to the Power Center. But before I fired it up and exposed my nerdiness to the few people on earth who aren’t already aware of it, I tried one more quick visual search.

I began with the lamppost where I’d secured my bike. Nothing there, so I walked toward the tree where I’d put my backpack and buki bag during the class. I’d already combed that area the day before, so I wasn’t too hopeful. But dead ahead was a small circular patch of bare dirt, with my ring right in its center. Considering all the people who’d been on that lawn during and after the Aikido class, having it still be there was pretty remarkable.

Found!

Found!

This marks the third time in the past year where I’ve lost something at an athletic event and then recovered it – my cell phone at Run Woodstock, my favorite winter running hat at the Martian races, and now the ring. Karma? Divine intervention? Dumb luck? I have no idea, but I’ll take it and be grateful just the same.

So what now? In my previous post I’d said that whether I found my ring or not, I’d resolved to make some changes that I’d been thinking about but hadn’t acted on yet (gotta have the time, you see). So I used this event to kick-start those changes – to make the time.

You couldn't sell me - I'm priceless!

You couldn’t sell me – I’m priceless!

There’s nothing earth-shattering here. I am not selling my cats, loading my worldly goods into a 20-year-old F-150 and driving to the Yukon with a retired lady prizefighter to prospect for meteorites – although I might attract more readers if I were. Instead, I’m moving forward with some improvements and new activities. I will keep you posted as I get them going, but here are the first two:

Blog Change: New Name, Same Great Taste

Sometime this week, the name of this blog is changing from Fitness at 50(+) to something else (watch this space). I will continue to post about my adventures in running, cycling, and Aikido, but under a new name. I am past my “year of being 50” (2012) and completed the activities I created this blog to brag about inform a curious world about. So I’m now hoping to appeal to a more general audience. Fitness, after all, is a lifetime thing, and can be (and should be) worked toward at any age.

What do my readers need to do? Send no money now! (**) The “fitnessat50.net” domain will remain active, and links to it will continue to work just fine, as will the “jeff @ fitnessat50 . net” email address (spaces added to prevent auto-harvesting). So I hope you’ll keep on reading!

But wait, I hear my astute readers saying…what about the other sacred subject you write about – chocolate? Have you given it up?

You Deserve This Bar of Chocolate 2

Add check item: Because I got out of bed this morning.

I hope you know me better than that. In fact, I plan to write even more often about that particular subject. It will just be in a different place.

Papa’s Got a Brand New Blog

I am creating a new blog dedicated to my adventures and experiences with coffee and chocolate – product reviews, tours, and stuff I learn – that I hope to finish designing and roll out in the next couple of weeks. And to help celebrate the new blog I will be giving away some neat stuff, so please stay tuned! Unless you don’t care for chocolate, in which case you’re either a) not reading this anymore, or b) from another planet, in which case I hope your intelligence gathering is for the ultimate benefit of mankind.

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(*) I don’t remember where I first heard the idea of letting go of things. It may have been Dr. Wayne Dyer on a PBS pledge drive. It sounds very Zen to me, anyway.

(**) Unless you’d like to send me money, of course. I’d hate to discourage you from something like that.