Monday, November 23, 2009

A lesson from Finny: Don't do shit for stupid reasons

Let's be honest for a second, OK?

Let's think back to when I started out this year with my fresh new goal of Hey! I'm going to run two half marathons this year rather than my usual single solitary one. Remember that? OK, good.

So, when I set that goal, of doubling my slow-going running career to go for a full 26.2M spaced out over two 13.1M courses and divided by a sweet three month water break, I had a variety of inspiration driving the decision.

Firstly, I'm kind of a goal-oriented person. Like, in the sense that I totally am. And back in the day when I started running regularly and taking it seriously enough to go out and buy proper shoes that didn't blister the EVER LOVING HELL out of my feet, I started setting goals for my running self. Like, if I am going to be running like this I should probably train for something so that I don't get bored or just flake out like a big fat loser on the mornings when it's chilly out or I just feel like laying in bed contemplating Bubba's ear hairs.

And so, I signed up for a 10K. Which was followed by a half marathon and a 5K Turkey Trot for good measure. That was 2007.

When I hit 2008 and everyone started getting all, "What are your New Year's resolutions?" and what not, I started think about it. Not that I was going to set any resolutions, because I have resolved not to resolve since it has never done me a damn bit of good, but I started to think about what I wanted to achieve that year. In other words, I set some goals. Like, I wanted to best my half marathon time (check) and run a few other races, one out of state (check).

Then I got to January 2009. People started saying the same New Year's things. I reminded myself of my self-promise not to make resolutions. I instead set some goals. But setting those goals was harder because I hadn't left myself a lot of interesting room within which to move.

Meaning, I could just try to best my half marathon time again by running the same race in October OR I could up the ante. But since we all know I've had no designs on running a full marathon, that wasn't going to be my tact. No, instead I settled on running two half marathons this year (check and check)- in essence doubling my previous years' efforts. And then I'd throw in a couple random races just for the hell of it (check) and hey let's make one of those half marathons an out-of-stater.

And when I chose these two half marathons to complete my yearly goal, would you like to know how and why I chose them? Because it's a pretty sad and ego-tastic reason...

Well, first I'll tell you that I chose two races from the Rock 'N Roll series. Which doesn't seem like that big of a stretch since the other part of my goal was to run a half out of my state and they have a Rock 'N Roll in Seattle (an inaugural one - special), which happens to be where my fiesty sister mama lives, so if I ran it then I'd also get the chance to go hang out with her for a few days and do some sister-type stuff like eating falafel at the Hot Guy Falafel place, salted caramel ice cream at Molly Moon's and Thai peanut chicken at Thai Tom.

But this isn't about my pre-race eat-a-thons. Even though I highly recommend all three of those Seattle eating establishments. Strongly. And with great fervor.


So, even though I'm not always motivated by food (which would have been a good reason to choose Seattle now that I think about it), I am effectively motivated by physical representation of achievement.

Which is to say that I like medals. And trophies. And plaques. Basically things that say that I did a good job and deserved physical proof to that effect.

I'm a small person, what can I say.

Anyway, that character flaw plays into this scenario because part of the reason I chose the Seattle Rock 'N Roll to accompany my San Jose Rock 'N Roll was because if you run two half marathons in their series in one year's time, they give you ANOTHER medal, on top of your finisher's medals awarded at the finish line, to say that "HEY! Good job, person! You finished two of our races this year!"

And you know I like that. All that "Good job, Finny"-ness and all.

Now, clearly that extra medal wasn't going to be able to get me all juiced up to train for two half marathons all in itself. No. I'd need some real dedication and motivation for that.

Which is where my other inspiration for running these two big races came from. Things like avoiding The Fatness and getting in good backpacking shape and just trying to motivate myself to keep running on a regular basis - stuff like that. Stuff that makes sense to people without the giant gaping character flaw that I believe some folks call Pride or Vainglory or Vanity or the lack of modesty or whathaveyou.

Thankfully, I don't concern myself with biblical classifications, so I'm not too concerned with descending into the pits of hell because I earned an extra finisher's medal which, dontchaknow, sits with the others collecting dust on my bookshelf in all of its anti-climatic glory.

So, truth be told, I held that extra medal out there as a nice icing on the inspiration cake, so to speak, and didn't really tie much of my motivation to it.

And I'm pretty glad I didn't because when it showed up in the mail, I just plain laughed.

Talk about your anti-climatic moments.

I guess it can't be all engraved placards and bowing townfolk.

Yes, in a plain brown paper envelope, much like one would expect to accompany a lustful type of adult internet order or black-market Cialis, arrived my series medal and a scrap of paper the size of a standard Post-it declaring a trite little congratulations.

Now, having run only two half marathons and not, say seven marathons to become a Rock Legend or some such nonsense, it wasn't that much of a diss. I already had my two finisher's medals and a PR gained on my first hilly half marathon course. BUT, this pithy little package had me laughing pretty hard.

And I was really glad that I'd done all that training and running and sweating and not drinking on Friday nights before my long training runs and all that other shit for reasons other than this. Because if I had done it all for this scrap of paper and sketch package then WHOA would I have been sad.

Though, one has to hope that they put a little more spice and excitement into awards going to people who've run, like, 180+ miles after paying those incredible registration fees, but who really knows.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share that moment of "Don't do shit for stupid reasons" with you all because this was really one of those moments that brought it home for me and made me glad I was running for fear of Fatness and making my 2008 running self look slow rather than for the glory of a handsomely presented award declaring my greatness.

Phew. Dodged that shame bullet pretty narrowly, now didn't I?


  1. With all that in mind, what are your goals for 2010?

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. On a totally unrelated note:

    I have NaNoWriMo help for you. Just clicky my name and it'll take you to a post that'll give you the links to get what you need.

  3. Hah! Not completely unrelated. You get a crappy prize for completing this race, too. (A web badge and downloadable PDF Certificate of Completion.)

  4. Claudia - Um. Well, I won't be running a marathon, that's for sure! Suggestions?

    Amy - I think the real crappy prize of NaNo is the book I'm busy writing because WOW is that some crap. It smells from here and I don't even have it open on my desktop. Thank you :)

  5. That is cool. And I'm proud of you.

    I'm afraid of the Fatness, too. I will be running my own turkey trot tomorrow morning, but not an official one.


[2013 update: You can't comment as an anonymous person anymore. Too many douchebags were leaving bullshit SPAM comments and my inbox was getting flooded, but if you're here to comment in a real way like a real person, go to it.]

Look at you commenting, that's fun.

So, here's the thing with commenting, unless you have an email address associated with your own profile, your comment will still post, but I won't have an email address with which to reply to you personally.

Sucks, right?

Anyway, to remedy this, I usually come back to my posts and post replies in the comment field with you.

But, if you ever want to email me directly to talk about pumpkins or shoes or what it's like to spend a good part of your day Swiffering - shoot me an email to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.