Another Day, Another Mile.

» Posted by on Jan 1, 2012 in Blog | 23 comments

The beginnings of all things are small. Cicero


Photo: Bob MacGillivray

Don’t let the smile in the picture fool you. While it reveals the deep satisfaction of having just completed a glorious extended jaunt in the San Juans, it also masks the overall haggardness of my physical self. The last thing I wanted to do in that moment was think about getting up the following day to go for a run. However, on January 1, 2011 I’d made a small, somewhat silly pact with myself, that I’d run at least a mile ever single day of the year. In retrospect it was probably a blessing that I was limping along the creek path in Boulder when I made that decision. I was still recovering from a fried popliteus muscle from running in circles for 24 hours just 12 days earlier. I was sick of sitting around waiting for it to heal, so I started running again. I was happy and motivated to be back out on the trail, but also tentative and not overly ambitious. One mile or a 15 minute minimum every day seemed reasonable and I was curious to see how long I could keep it going. I knew that inevitably a “Hardrock moment” would come about. As life plays its course I’d have to cater for the unexpected and make sure that no matter what I’d get it done, whether it’s a beer mile, airport mile, infirm mile.

“How big are your burgers?” I asked with the crazed look of a lunatic.
“Well, how much money you got?” replied the even more wild eyed cook of the Ouray burger joint. I hesitate, not quite sure how to respond to that.
“I’m just pretty hungry.”
“I’ll add jalapenos and bacon and you’ll be alright.”
Indeed, I was, for a short time at least. The burger had followed an ever so disappointing serving of fro-yo soft serve when TK and I had left Silverton on our way back to Boulder. Several more stops were needed to satisfy my famished post hundred mile state. By the time we reached Frisco, I’d eaten enough to feed a small village and felt about as lousy as you’d expect. Somehow, TK convinced me of the virtues of the Frisco bike path as an optimal place to get in my mile. He crutched off one way with dog and I hobbled down the other in my button down and jeans. Passers by looked at me weirdly. I greeted them with the usual Howdy and wave like everything was normal. Back at the car, I waited an agonizing 3 minutes for TK to return as the food inside me got stimulated and rebelled from the 15 minute trot. Another day, another mile.

I limp past the front desk, sporting my shortest shorts, ankle wrapped. It’s 4:30am, a couple days after UTMB. The woman working the late night shift at the Geneva hotel looks at me, perplexed.
“I’m going to run for a bit around the parking lot.”
“OK,” is all she says.
48 hours prior, I was lying on my back in the mud, agonizing over my fat penguin foot, pain shooting up my sciatica. Less than 2 hours of running and UTMB was over. However, the streak had to go on. I make my rounds in the parking lot, groggy, cotton mouthed, with a slight feeling of nausea from the lack of sleep. At 4:45am as I make my way back inside, I catch the croissant delivery guy who kindly offers up the goods, fresh from the bakery. Things really aren’t so bad after all. Another day, another mile.

My grandfather passed away this year, so my family took a trip out to Indiana in the fall for his memorial. After a day of sorting through papers and other personal effects, I felt emotionally drained. At 11:30pm, I hadn’t thought about running all day and at this point it seemed justifiable to a miss a run, just this once. I didn’t though. I slipped out into the night and ran my mile around the lake in my flip flops. I let loose. I cried. Another day. Another mile.

Maintaining a streak has on many occasions felt absurd, yet as I sit here writing this on the last day of 2011, I can’t help but feel a deep sense of satisfaction and gratitude for what I’ve learned along the way. There’s something special about devoting, even the smallest amount of time, each day to something that you love. In many ways, it is no longer a question as to whether or not I will run today, but rather about the excitement and anticipation of what the run will bring. Fifteen minutes, one mile, one year, time and distance are self-defined arbitrary measures of success, but the act of getting out there each and every day, taking that step, is truly what matters. And, if I can show this unwavering dedication to something as trivial as running, can I not also show a similar reverence to others and other areas of my life? The best thing you can give to anyone is time. Here’s to 2012 and another good year.

23 Comments

  1. Great stuff Joe.  Very inspiring and human account at the same time.  Love the last thoughts you leave it with.

  2. Thanx always for sharing. Have a great year Joe. Liberate your inner awesomeness! Cheers…

  3. Happy New Year Joe, Here's to many more steps – one at a time.  mum

  4. Great post! Can so relate. Enjoy your run today…and tomorrow!

  5. Awesome.  I think I had 15 zeros in 2011.  11 of which came immediately after 100 milers.  I feel soft.  

  6. good stuff.  amazing dow ones passion for such a simple thing as running can carry over to other areas of life.  i try to show this to my sixth grade students by example.

  7. my website didnk register correctly above.  correction here

  8. Just what I needed…

  9. Your posts never fail to inspire, Joe. Congrats on a wonderful 2011, and thank you for all the beautiful writing. May 2012 bring more wonderful days and miles.

  10. Joe, I've used a three week streak at the end of 2011 to get me back into regular running… and was considering keeping that streak going through at least Leadville. Now, you've got me thinking about trying this for a year. Thanks for yet another gift.

  11. Wonderful post.  Thanks.  

  12. Thank you all for the kind comments. Keep on running…

  13. Such a great reminder. I pledge to devote that same time and energy to writing each and every day of this year. Thank you for sharing and inspiring me to be better.  

  14. Thank you Joe. Your posts are always thought provoking and inspiring. I love you thoughts on "self-defined arbitrary measures of success"  and "unwavering dedication".

  15. Terrific photo!

  16. I was browsing the AM stations somewhere in Virgina and came across a guy talking about healthy relationships.  He said that him and his wife dedicate 20 minutes per day, talking about their day.  Some positive merit in dedicating a small time to something you love.

  17. True dedication  Joe.  A happy and successful New Year to you both
    Gramps with Nans

  18. Joe, after discovering your blog quite some time ago, I find that I look forward to your postings more so than any other and this didn’t disappoint. Thanks for the inspiration through your words and pictures.

  19. Joe you continue to post beautiful things both with words and photos. Keep up the awesome inspiring work.

    Have a great 2012.

  20. I know I teased you a lot this past year about your "silly" streak runs, but I think it's super impressive and valuable that you got out each and every day, despite some of the crazy ambitious races/runs that you did. I always hear about people having long running streaks, but most of them don't seem to race 100 milers, do 100 mile solo training runs, and virtually break their ankle a couple times. 

  21. great post Joe! Are you coming down for Zane Grey

  22. Thanks, Dave. Yes, I’ll be down for Zane. Looking forward to the rock fest 🙂

  23. Hello,
    I run a mile a day as well. My streak began November 7th, 2011 with the closing of the GrouseGrind in North Vancouver, British Columbia. Goals of an athlete are truly amazing and being inspired by other runners aides us all in reaching our potential.

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