Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Courage to Start

There is a book and a website called, The Courage to Start, by John "The Penguin" Bingham. A tag line is,
"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." Bingham
also wrote a popular running related blog and Runners World column, both entitled, The Penguin Chronicles. Now retired, the Penguin is famous for encouraging new runners to begin and to run more. His stories celebrated his own and other new(er) runners' experiences.

I never paid a whole lot of attention. I figured that although I wasn't the fastest runner around, I certainly also wasn't the slowest. Celebrating "newbieness", much less sluggishness, was not what I was interested in. Regarding that tag line, I also wasn't impressed. I nearly always started, and finished, whatever I wanted. What did any of it have to do with courage, anyway?

Fast forward to 2016. I've been battling an Achilles injury for three years now. Although the pain has subsided at times, even allowing me to get back to running a few marathons and ultras, it has never gone away completely. And it's been at its worst for the past few months. I hobble through the training miles, but speed and distance are both very painful prospects.

After organizing the NorthCoast 24-Hour Endurance Run in 2009 because I wanted to run the thing, I will finally get that chance in a couple days. But with this constant pain, I really ought not even try to think about any long distances. At NC24, however, there's no such thing as a Did Not Finish (DNF) status. Anyone who shows up and runs at least one 0.9 mile loop can claim a finisher's medal. Even so, I have often wondered if I'd have the courage to start.

Now I think I will have that courage. And I'll even finish. It just won't be with a sizeable mileage total.

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