I put these thoughts down in a state of deprivation, having only consumed liquidy meals in the past few days as I prepare for a colonoscopy tomorrow morning, the last medical procedure before I enter into the surgery. I have sustained on homemade, protein-rich smoothies, soy yogurts, soy pudding cups, and bottled smoothies or vegetable juices…and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Whatever nutrients I may have absorbed from these almost foods have been offset by their quickened digestion and left me reeling with a continuous state of hunger, which hasn’t been helped by my commitment to continue riding my bike each day leading to the surgery. Today I have only ingested coffee and gatorade…then a few laxative pills….and to come is 64 more ounces of gatorade mixed with another powerful laxative. I’ve been told this evening isn’t going to be fun…and I believe it. I’m only hoping my liquid diet the past few days and my normally digestion aided by the foods I eat as a vegan will help speed this process along rapidly. Anyways…this is all to say…I’m a little weak in the head right now and so forgive this post if it seems to get a little distracted or loopy or whatever.
When I ran the Winter Nighttime Trail Marathon in January, I didn’t do it because I was looking to PR. When I wanted to see how many miles I could run on a treadmill at 7:30 pace, I didn’t do it out of obligation. When I wanted to run a sub 2:30 marathon at Chicago in ’09, I didn’t think it would be easy.
And when I run any race, any workout, any weekend of trails, I don’t do it in spite of the difficulty of the effort, in spite of their obstacles…I do it BECAUSE of the obstacles.
When I saw the race advertised in my email, I was instantly intrigued.
A trail race.
THAT is awesome.
To me, it was awesome because the absurdity, the obstacles, were so uncommon and untraditional that to overcome them in an attempt to still run as fast a race as possible would be greatly rewarding. I can run a marathon. I can run a trail race. I can run in the winter. I can run at night. But to do all these simultaneously is truly absurd, and I wanted to see how well I could do that.
So I did…and I won…probably mildly hypothermic (and in hindsight, with cancer), but whatever, I was satisfied.
And that sort of accomplishment is a reward I seek often in life, the attempt to overcome adversity, to overcome the obstacles, to be faced with absurd circumstances and just say, Ok…Fuck it!, let’s go!
Because that adversity is not there for it’s own sake. In my perspective, that adversity is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to overcome and emerge victorious.
Let’s strip away the trail and have the race on the road. Let’s strip away the distance and make it a 5k. Let’s strip away the winter and schedule it in June. Let’s strip away the night and race it at 8am. Ok, fine. But…just fine. I can do that. I have done that….many times. And there is always an adversity to overcome, even in a race with “perfect” conditions as such, but there is something coddling about that too. The adversity is lessened, and to me then, so is the reward. There is such a shrunken opportunity, a stifled inability to overcome.
I prefer the absurdity in life, for faced with such great obstacles, the victory will be even greater.
So when I ran those miles on the treadmill (turned out to be 45 before my hip gave out), and I won that nighttime trail marathon, and I finished Chicago in 2:25 (I’ll get you PR, just you wait!), the success I had was great, but it was the great adversity and the towering obstacles I had to face and overcome that made the reward so infinitely greater than if I had chosen a lesser foe.
Maybe that will help explain to those who are confused or concerned about my positive perspective in facing down my current situation, in going into the MOAS (Mother Of All Surgeries), and in fighting against an estimated 6 month recovery window. For many reasons I’m facing down this stomach cancer with positivity, (and not to be morbid or insulting, but) even excitement, not because I savor life-threatening disease or hope for potentially ruinous circumstances, but rather because, since it’s now here….it can now be overcome. This is something of a tragedy, yes, but it’s also an opportunity.
It’s an opportunity for victory.
And that’s how I’m going to embrace it, just like I embrace every obstacle presented to me in running. I don’t want the comfortable life…that’s boring. I don’t want to see the starting line and walk away. I want to step to it, run past all the obstacles in my path, and reach the reward at the finish.
I plan to do the same against the effects of my cancer.