It’s a new kind of adventure in the digital world. After years of flooding facebook with the minutia of my running experiences, achievements, failures, and goals, I’ve decided to move my reports and updates to a forum of their own, free for all to see but not thrust upon the scores of facebookers who couldn’t care less about my last and greatest run.
A brief introduction to this ‘blog is in order. “Why not?” has been a mantra of mine for about seven years now, arising from running, that I endeavor to remember throughout my life. By nature I’m extremely risk-averse and locked in an ongoing struggle with my fear of failure and embarrassment. When a challenge or opportunity presents itself, I try to remember to ask myself “why not?” and, lacking a convincing response, plunge forward into the task at hand.
It was Spring of my junior year of high school on an uncomfortably hot Monday afternoon, a perfect day for the most challenging track workout of the season. 12 X 400m, hard. Well, 10 X 400m with a strongly-encouraged extra two. After clipping off eight decent laps, I started to struggle. I slowed on nine, and by the end of the tenth I was dizzy, lightheaded, and jello-legged. I proceeded straight through the line to the end of the track left my lunch for the crows. Lying down on the infield after ten, I worked to get my breath back under control and find the energy to continue, but it didn’t seem to be there. At that point my coach walked up and asked if I wanted to hop back out on the track for two more. I was hot and exhausted, but before I could think I heard two words slip past my lips that my reasonable mind wanted to quickly retrieve: “why not?” I was committed then. Up I rose, and out I went for lap 11. I started to feel better as I ran, a weight lifted from my shoulders (or literally weight lifted out of my stomach), and ended up with a time consistent with laps 1-8. I smiled, walked around, and attacked 12, dropping my fastest run of the day. That was it. “Why not?” The simple question serves as a rejection of all the silly excuses that we use to convince ourselves to take the easy path and pursue ultimately less rewarding results.
Here I am seven years later, and I’ll be the first to admit that I still struggle mightily with my over-cautious nature, but remembering the simple question is always a step in the right direction.
I’ve created this ‘blog and I’m writing this post as I sit in my friend Ben’s house in Menlo Park, CA, pursuing one of my greatest and most reckless adventures yet. It was about three weeks ago that Ben told me of his plans to run 45 miles from the Stanford campus, across the Santa Cruz Mountains, and to the Pacific Ocean. That day, with no planning or focused training, I bought my plane tickets and committed to joining him. The weekend is here and we run tomorrow. Of course I’m nervous, and I’m getting stressed with all the logistics of food and water drops along the course and scheduling friends to meet us along the way, but by overcoming the nerves and pushing through, I hope to find a rich reward and an unforgettable memory forged in this adventure. Five runners tackling 45 miles, dedicated to sticking together as a group, mostly self-supported, the majority with no running experience beyond a couple hours certainly makes for an interesting challenge, but with a slow, all-day mind-set and the support of each other, I hope that we can find our way to taste that ocean air at day’s end.
For now, I’m signing off,
Danny Naylor, The “Why Not?” Runner