By Laz

I hit 498 miles today. Only 2 short of 500. I had today pegged for 500 all week, but things just kept interfering. Three times this week I had to cut runs short of where I wanted to go, because the days are just too full. The only place to get the extra time was from sleep. And going without sleep in a four month effort is a fool’s errand.

I was pleased to finish in the top 3000 again after my Friday run. 2990st place, even tho I had to cut my miles short. Undoubtedly I will slip back into the 3000s over the weekend. The pattern is well established. I move up during the week, as people put in less miles and I stay steady. Then over the weekend I lose ground as people have the time to put in longer runs.

I am content that my strategy is working nicely. Consistency. Four months is a long time, and people are losing focus. Ultimately, motivation has to come from inside. All of us, each and every one, goes thru those temptations to let our focus slip. The weakness in us casts about for reasons to take a day off. And once it persuades us once, the next time is that much easier.

Me, I have no choice. I set my target on August 31, and there is no re-evaluation until then. No matter how the race is going, I will stick with it until the last. This is something I learned from the special athletes who finish at Barkley.

They set their minds on 5 loops and nothing that happens causes that to waver. When problems come up, as problems are guaranteed to do, they never think about how this issue is going to stop their attempt. They think about how to fix it, eliminate it, work around it, or overcome it. They finish the “fun run”, when a runner can stop with a tangible accomplishment. (The “fun run” is one of the biggest obstacles in the Barkley, with its siren song of stopping now and calling it a win.) They never hesitate. The pain, the terrain, the darkness, the loneliness, the weather, getting off course, falling behind the cutoffs. Nothing stops them until they are forced out or finish. And it is that focus on the goal that makes them successful….

And not just at Barkley.

Now, I am not in the same league as the Barkley Finishers. No one is going to be awed by what I accomplish out here. I am old and slow and broken down. But, does that really matter? What matters is not the size of the achievement, but the standard of the performance. In life, everything we do is our signature. When I walk the final mile on August 31, with 123 days of the best I had to give, my signature will be complete. And I will feel victorious.

I won’t be alone that day. I have been awed by the tenacity and determination of the RATs. They have set goals and amazed even themselves by how much they can do. You know who really awes me? The ones who are still behind the buzzard, and still chasing. The ones who may not catch up, but will fight down to the last day. If they stay with that focus and determination over the next two months, a lot of them are going to beat the odds, and surpass all expectations. They will get close enough to make a final push and close out the last of that deficit. And if they do not… They will still walk away as champions.

They will have left their signature all the way across the State of Tennessee.

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