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I Will Never Be Satisfied.

31 October 2017

I had a brief conversation with my sister yesterday after my afternoon run. I had a great run, the hardest I can remember recently. I went 10 miles in 91 minutes, pushing every step of the way. The weather was perfect, I was rested and fed and watered. Everything came together. And so I learned exactly where my fitness is. Last year this time, I managed about the same. I’d like to break 90 minutes again.

But the conversation with my sister was about maybe running an ultramarathon in the 30-40 mile range. Maybe next fall. Maybe the spring after. There are a lot of great races I’d like to try. I’d like to get into more trail running. Trail running requires another level of fitness beyond road running: more core, more stabilizer muscles. I’m happy with my current abilities, but I always want to do more.

And so we started talking about what it would take to be satisfied. And I realized: I will never be satisfied. I’ve done enough cool stuff now – marathons, triathlons, obstacle courses – that if I was going to be satisfied with the experience of being a finisher I already would be. If “enough” existed for me, I’d have already reached it. But I’m an alcoholic. “Enough” isn’t a concept I’m acquainted with.

But here’s the important bit I also realized. I’m deeply satisfied when I look back. I’m not disappointed by a single race I’ve run. There are some I’ve not performed as well as I’d have wished. But there’s nothing I’ve done that I regret or resent. I’m proud of my terrible times and mediocre finishes. Hell, I’m proud of my trail half-marathon where I overheated and twisted my ankle and finished second-from-last. I’m really proud of it: it hurt like hell, and I wasn’t fit enough, and I gutted it out and finished. I’m satisfied.

I have very little fear that when my time is up, I’ll be able to look back and see my life and think, “I did pretty well.” But looking forward? Looking forward I’m not satisfied. There’s more I can do. There’s more I should do. I’ve done about the best I can so far. But in so many ways I want to do more and do better going forward. Professionally, personally, in my relationship, in my life. There’s more to give. More to see. More to seek.

I’ll never be satisfied. But that’s a good thing.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 31 October 2017 07:45

    I completely agree. I’m close to 18 months sober and completed two half marathons. I improved my time by 23 minutes in the second of those. Now? I’m training for a Marathon in May. Long term? Maybe an ultra. Maybe a triathlon. When I was drinking everyday, my plan and goal was to drink that day. That’s it. With sobriety I am now able to plan long term goals. I just re-enrolled in college and would like to get my Doctorate degree in 11 years to begin my second career at age 50. I would never have been able to have, much less achieve these goals while in active alcoholism. My life is not perfect, but it’s the best it’s ever been. So, so grateful. Thank you for sharing and for this excellent blog. It’s truly an inspiration.

    • 31 October 2017 07:50

      I improved by like 31 minutes from my first to my second, too! It’s “addicting” (in a totally different and healthy way) to challenge ourselves physically in sobriety.

  2. 31 October 2017 08:09

    An intentional reference to

  3. 31 October 2017 09:01

    I’m now to a point in life where I am doing less. But I am ever so grateful that I rose to the challenge and trained for and participated in every single race. I am so proud of those marathons especially. I think I am actually satisfied at this point to “just” do my triathlons in the summer. I love them!

    I am so proud of you for what you have been able to accomplish!

  4. 31 October 2017 09:05

    P.S., I would highly recommend The Bear Chase, it is a trail race, it is meticulously well organized and so much fun (and in walking distance from my home). I have done the half marathon twice, but they also have a 50K and 50 mile.

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