Saturday I will make my 3rd attempt at running 100 miles. I intend to finish. I may not. It is the only race distance I have ever attempted that I have never been able to finish.
It bothers me. It nags at me. I feel a twinge every time I talk to someone about my two previous DNFs. (Did Not Finish) It’s something I should be able to do. Yet I have not.
I think a fear of failure is a normal thing for a human being, but I don’t think it is simply failure that we fear. I think what really scares us is witnessed failure. Falling on your ass when you’re at home alone is one thing. Biting the dirt in the middle of your local Target is something else entirely.
I don’t really get much of an audience at a race, but I am surrounded by my peers, and the results live here online for the rest of time. I think I have handled my losses well. Even when I have failed to finish, I have still, often, accomplished something that I am proud of. But this will be my third attempt at this distance. There are people traveling in from 4 states specifically to support me at this race. I want very much to finish - and still I may not. I can't say that would be an easy thing to deal with.
But this really is the very simple, utter truth: It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. And the only way I could truly fail would be to not even try. Just by crossing the starting line, I will have already won. Not only the satisfaction of the effort, but a profound contentment at the knowledge that so many people care enough – and care enough about me – to show up and help me do it, or to send me thoughtful well-wishes from afar. It’s kind of like what old Scrooge found out that fictional Christmas Day: You can possess all the things in the world, but you’re only rich if you have friends and love.
I have every intention of finishing this race this weekend – I Am Not Talented, But I Am Stubborn – but even if for some reason I do not, I still feel like a lucky man.
Now let’s DO this thing.