The picture above was taken on 9-November, 2013. It was the low point of that year, I was driving myself home after barely completing the Santa Barbara Marathon. I injured my knee during that race and was making the 2 1/2 hour drive. Pain radiated from my knee every time I pressed the accelerator, I was positive that I needed surgery and trying to accept the fact that my running days might be over.
As the exits zoomed by I felt the need to pull off the freeway at Seacliff road in Ventura. The view along the freeway was breathtaking and I wanted to take a break before running into the Saturday night LA traffic.
Seacliff Road was completely unremarkable, but after a few turns I pulled right up to the beach. My knee could not support my weight so I took the picture from the car as I sat listening to the ocean. I had a moment there, a quiet, simple and peaceful and yet tormented moment.
Yesterday, on the way home from vacation, with my wife and daughter in the car, I traveled that same freeway and I pulled off along that same road. This time I parked the car and climbed down the rocks with micro-twinges of that November injury reminding me to take it easy.
When I hit the beach, I had the overwhelming desire to run. I broke out into a full sprint down the sand. It felt good physically, emotionally and spiritually.
A mentor of mine once pointed out that people either tend to move toward pleasure or away from pain. I am about a week out from my next marathon. I am not in the best physical condition. I am having calf problems and it would be easy to just take a pass on this next race and walk away from the sunk costs of the race registration and the airfare. Here’s the problem: I would rather fail because of the injury than not show up because of the fear of the pain or the desire to avoid the expense of the hotel room.
I go back to that moment at the start of the Edinburgh Half Marathon when I decided to run in my leather dress shoes, because I knew the blisters would heal, but the regrets would last forever. Whether that is stupid, pig-headed or God-willing, something perhaps more noble, I have come to the conclusion that’s what I do and that is who I am.