Castles in the air and burned boats

Castles in the air and burned boats

I’m a sucker for inspirational quotes. I often find them on Twitter (usually thanks to Mike H. – hey!), retweet them, and then quickly forget about them or whatever “deep” meaning I transferred to them. However, I’m finding a couple I came upon in the past few days particularly motivating and ass-kicking as I *officially* dive into my Eugene Marathon training this week and another attempt to break 3:30.

What were they, you say?

Tweeted by RealRunners (@RunningQuotes), quoting businessman Vivek Paul: “We have to go for what we truly think we’re capable of, not limit ourselves by what we’ve been in the past.”


Tweeted by Desi Davila (@des_davila) (one of my favorite professional marathoners… this woman is badass), quoting Thoreau:

thanks to for this
thanks to for this

Both these quotes, as well as what Matt wrote earlier, in 2012, about burning the boats and going balls-out with our goals-setting, is so appropriate, and I think pretty universal, for any runner aspiring to realize any goal–whether it’s time-specific for a particular race, simply completing a distance (which we all know, often isn’t a “simple” thing at all), or even running those first few agonizing steps after a long period of less-than-ideal living.

Just because we’re all carrying with us some sort of history when we toe the line at our respective events doesn’t mean that said history will dictate our success–or promise our failure(s)–today.

Roughly forever ago, in my middle and high school running days, I was a sprinter–100, 200, and 400m, and their respective relays–and when my coach toyed with the idea of making me into an 800 runner, I told him I would have nothing of it. In fact, I think I told him I would quit. (Of course I wouldn’t, but still. Two times around the track!?)

My, how people, and times, change.

Earlier, I mentioned that I’m taking a leap of faith and going for gold as I train to break-3:30.  I wanted to do it in Houston but just missed it, so Eugene will be my second go at it, and this time around, I’m planning to do this by following one of Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning plans.

While I have a healthy amount of marathoning (and running) experience under my belt, to say that I’m somehow “advanced” is a little… weird. I still make stupid, novice-y mistakes when I run or race (hello, first mile of the 10k I raced last Sunday), but I guess it’s these dumb things that I do pretty regularly (ha) that allow me to keep learning in this sport and super critically, to keep improving.

In Pfitzinger’s book, which is a most excellent read, by the way, Pfitzinger suggests that all marathoners have a series of goals–namely, a career goal, something that you want to realize before you retire (something that might even make you sound a bit cocky if you share it with others!), a goal for your next race, and then mini process-goals that help guide you toward your next race goal (which should feed into your career goal). As I was reading through the book the other day, I found myself incredibly energized because, like probably any runner, goals motivate me and help me in the decisions I make in my day-to-day life.

Sitting down and actually writing out my career, next race, and process goals, though, is what really sealed the deal for me.

That’s when those castles in the sky–all of ’em–suddenly became much more real.

When I realized that the experience and wisdom (ha) I’ve gained from racing, training, and surrounding myself with inspiring, knowledgeable, and motivational people in this sport (generally, people who just kick a lot of ass) will be (read: are) the elements that will be crucial for me as I go from being wishy-washy about my goals, uncertain about my ability or drive to attain them, to making it a matter of fact, a confirmed reality.

I probably sound like I’m totally confident in my abilities to do what I never in a million years thought I’d be capable of doing, and I’m not.

It will be hard.

But that’s what makes it rewarding.

I’ve burned my boats and built my castles. What are you doing?

One thought on “Castles in the air and burned boats

  1. Funny enough, I was a sprinter in my high school days too, and running more than a mile seemed like crazy talk. How far we’ve come since then…

    Love this post! Very well-written, and I could totally relate. And I think you can crush that goal in April. 🙂

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