When you’re focused on a far-reaching goal, sometimes the mountain of work ahead of you can seem insurmountable. The evidence, inevitably, will arise to show you that the goal is, in fact, too much, the bar too high, the race too long or too fast. But all too often, we’re just preparing to fail before we even give ourselves a chance.
My “Big BQ Adventure,” as I have named my own lofty goal, has reached such a breaking point. My 800s aren’t quite fast enough, my old mystery-knee-tendonitis is resurfacing and I’m tired. My mind is at its limit and I haven’t even reached 50 miles per week yet!
Usually running teaches me so many life lessons, but this time it’s the other way around. My running is suffering at the hands of me, my own worst enemy, and it’s time to find a little perspective.
If you follow me on Salty Running, you probably know that I’m a freelancer in New York’s film and TV industry. What you might not know is that I’ve been on the entry level of this business for the last six years, having switched between three different crafts before pursuing a job within the camera department.
I sunk everything I had into this job. I started turning down other work and relied on a combination of part-time gigs, unemployment insurance and credit cards to keep myself afloat. I went a little crazy on weeks when there was no work. There were times, especially when I was injured and couldn’t even run, that I’d doubt my self worth, or my ability to ever move up off the first rung of that ladder. There were times I resented my bosses, who, because of union regulations, couldn’t let me do all the things I wanted to learn how to do. I kept telling myself that my ship would eventually come in and I would land a full-time job on a movie or a show.
The full time job stil hasn’t come, but something else did. Last weekend I took a test that, essentially, is the gateway to the union that will allow me to work as a camera assistant, not just the assistant to the camera assistants. In the world in which I work, this means more potential for job opportunities and much higher pay! It was an exciting experience; I read all the books, gave over a month of Saturdays to review sessions and studied hard! This is what I gave everything up for. This chance right here. Financially and emotionally I had reached a breaking point, and I needed, more than anything, to pass this test.
But after the exam, which was about thirty times harder than I ever had imagined it would be, I was convinced I’d failed. I spent the remainder of the weekend planning my escape from the failure I was so sure I’d earned. I thought about leaving New York. I thought about changing careers entirely, going back to a desk job. I thought about curling up in a ball in my bed and never getting up. Everyone knew I was working for this! The shame of failing was too much to face.
Today though, while doing my beloved speed work, I had my first workout intended to build me up to Yassos – 2×4, 6×8, 2×4 – and I nailed those 400s! I hit every one at 1:45. But oh, the 800s. Oh dear. Each came in between 3:45 and 3:50, when my target is 3:35. Not. Good. I started rethinking my goal. Maybe not now, I thought. Maybe I should re-adjust to a sub-4 goal. I thought about my knee. Maybe I should just run to finish.
I thought about the last person I dated, how I spent the whole time anticipating that he was going to disappoint me….and then he did. I thought about how I was just as good now as I was then, and just as good as before I’d ever met him. There was no failure. It just wasn’t meant to be…not now. Not this time. But at least I tried.
I thought about the tumult of other things wrong in my life – the stolen credit card numbers, the roommate moving out, the sudden need for an exterminator right when I can’t afford one, the cell phone that literally fell apart right when I can’t afford it, the clothes that are too big for me that I can’t afford to replace, the nagging knee…that of course I can’t afford to get checked out. It all happened at once, all right before my test, as if designed specifically to distract me from my goal. No wait, the goals. I still have that BQ over my head.
Then something happened….I passed the test.
Suddenly I realized it’s time to look up instead of down, to anticipate that I have the capacity to continually surprise myself by doing better than I think. I can have the job. I can find love. I can have a good life. I can achieve my running dreams. If not now, then maybe it just wasn’t meant to be this time. But there’s no reason not to try! A nice Canadian told me that Wayne Gretsky once said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Instead of planning out my own demise it’s time to just shut up and try.
And this week I’m going to try to hit my pace for my tempo run.
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