I’m Mediocre. And Damned Proud of It.
This weekend was a strange one for our marathon training. This would have been a weekend for our 17 mile run, but because we had a 10K race on Sunday, we only did a 10 mile long run Saturday. Here’s what I’ve learned about the long run: much like a vacation, it doesn’t really matter how long it really is. It matters how long you mentally prepare for it to be. Ten miles were plenty to get me ready to stop running. Even though I am usually flying along pretty well at the 10 mile mark. But recovery was quicker.
Then I bought a Garmin forerunner 225. I’m pretty sure it was a terrible mistake. The watch itself seems pretty ok, except that it measured a 1.7 mile walk as 46 calories, which is ludicrous. It should be a minimum of 140, probably more like 170. And if it doesn’t calculate calories correctly, it’s not worth anything. But worse was the fact that the website interface is utterly, utterly awful. Just crap. And it doesn’t sync to runkeeper in Chrome. Basically, it’s fancy garbage as far as I’m concerned. Which is too bad, because I like the idea of a waterproof watch instead of dragging my phone around. But I think I’ll go back to that.
Then on Sunday morning I went with BB and my sponsor and we ran a 10K. It was a great race put together by an ECC running store, winding through neighborhoods of the city I’d never been in. It was a circuitous route, sometimes on streets a little too narrow for the volume of runners (about 4000, I think). I’m very pleased with my result. This was my first ever 10K race. And while we weren’t planning to really push, we ended up going for a good pace and being pleased with the result.
BB and I ran together as always, and finished the race in 56:23. That works out to a 9:05 pace. That’s kinda cool because 9:08 is what you have to run to finish a half-marathon in under two hours. And 10K is pretty close to half a half-marathon. So, cooler weather, straighter course, there’s a decent chance we could actually pull off a sub-2 half. And while I won’t cry if I never make that, it’d be pretty cool.
Overall, I finished just in the lower half of men, overall, and just in the lower half of men in my age group (40-44). I could not be happier with that. I finished about smack-dab in the middle of a large group of men who run six-mile races for fun. I’m mediocre. And I am damned proud of being mediocre.
I mean that absolutely sincerely. I have gone from being a fat, lazy, alcoholic smoker to someone who displays basic quality in a footrace among men who run. As my addictions and obesity fade in my visceral memory, it is crucial to me that I remain in a place, mentally and spiritually, committed to making progress. That’s how I safeguard my sobriety. I may not remember so well anymore how cravings feel. It can be easy to forget the shame and fear and self-hatred and drudgery. But I still know keenly that if I don’t maintain my spiritual condition, I will return to that.
Being a runner has given me a place to run to. I know what forward means, now. I have learned to make progress not only in my sobriety, as I started learning more than seven years ago. Now I am learning to make progress is all the aspects of my life. Career, relationship, fitness. In so many ways I am delayed in life. I went through puberty late. I started my career late. I got married late, and divorced quickly. Now I am finally settling in to a life worth living.
Being mediocre, middle-of-the-road, is an aspirational goal for many alcoholics. I don’t need to excel. I don’t need to surpass. I don’t need to be the best or the smartest or the greatest at anything. I just want to have a simple life where I contribute and succeed at basic measures of decency. Where I’m true to myself and committed to my path. I have a path to follow now. I don’t know exactly where it goes. But I’m running.