A year in the balance
By: Meghan McCarrick
We live our lives out of balance.
You will take that statement one of 2 ways.
I tend to think that balance is mediocre and monotonous, but also calm and rewarding even in the case of struggle for it. People from different cultures, of different sexes, with different belief systems, they all fall somewhere along the balance quest spectrum. Give me routine! No, give me adventure!
Goal setting can really turn balance on its ear. Clear headiness. Panic.
This year, I had running goals. I assumed that they would keep me on track. I am impatient. As I set goals, they became too small.
Running is ME dependent. Balanced or not, running is physically AND mentally challenging where so many other facets of life are not. I am healthy “enough” and driven “enough” and available “enough”. But, I also found that I am balanced OR imbalanced enough.
February 2014 rolled around and I realized I was keeping a modest but above average weekly mileage count. A few 30 mile weeks in ass cold Missouri winter weather had strengthened my character enough to decide it was time to look at setting a 2014 goal. I set my sights on a 50 mile week. I made this plan known to those close to me on a Sunday. On a Tuesday, I heard from a childhood friend that he was eyeing hundreds in 2014. I didn’t even know what that meant. In all honesty, I still don’t and possibly never will. I was out for a short run and turned it into 11 miles. By that Saturday, I only needed 6 more to have my 50 mile week. That was in March.
I basked in the glory of finishing that goal, kind of, and then realized I was screwed for the rest of the year because I had rushed it. I chose an admirable 1000 mile year. I was already on pace for it but couldn’t account for illness or injury or “other”. 1000 miles came and went this past summer. Actually, it went with a bang. In that short amount of time, I had found my running group and they joined me to run those last countable. But, then, that too was done.
I ran my longest mileage day of around 32 miles. I was joined once again by my favorite running companions. That day was marked by a quick, “ok, well, we did that” afterward.
I decided that 1500 was a number I could hit before the new year. That number also came and went and I didn’t even acknowledge it this time. I ran my first “official unofficial” race in the last 12 years (I ran a 5k once in my early 20’s), mid November. That run was difficult at a 50k distance with a hard course here in Missouri, but I still managed it well. I ran my first “official official” 50 mile race in early December, also difficult, also fine.
Then, when I looked for that same grasp and desire and deep seated mouth-on-the-reins feel, it just wasn’t there any more. Where was my balance? Or imbalance?
I am 23 miles from an 1800 total for the year. I feel fairly positive that will happen. But it isn’t really a goal. I am scared to think what I might feel to just be done…done for real. So, instead of running today, I typed this, with 20 miles scheduled for tomorrow.
I can’t believe what I have accomplished, but I also don’t feel like it amounts to much. I know what I felt in the last moments of completing those goals but there was not a sense of finish, more of a “what’s next?”. And now, I don’t know. What do goals afford you in the end?
A nice dinner? A new pair of jeans? Bragging rights for the week?
What do we do when we overcome an intangible? Goal, meet balance…on ear.
This is not meant to be depressing, just an account, harnessed by some questions I have been contemplating going into next year. My spectrum might appear inherently negative with disillusionment on one end and breaking my life on the other, but it really isn’t; I know there is a sweet spot in there. I already have some goals for 2015. And, I already have some fears about the balance.