May 23, 2018

Running Past Our Limits (Part 6 of 6)

[If you haven’t read Parts 1-5, you need to go back and do it. They’re short, and you’ll be glad you did.]

A week later, I ran another marathon. I didn’t plan to do it. I just woke up in a mood, checked in with Coach, got the nod, and did it. My time was 2:35:58 – 16 minutes faster than the week before. I missed the world record for a man my age by a minute and 35 seconds. Even if I had counted the time off the machine, refilling my water bottle and working to get the feeling back in my feet, I still would have come in under the original 3 hour goal I’d had for the week before.

Funny, the first time, when I shared my marathon story with family and friends, everybody got all inspired. This time, it was no big deal. Oh, Kevin/Dad ran another marathon. I wonder what’s for dinner.

A couple weeks later, I hit my goal of 12 miles in 60 minutes – the goal I’d set eight months ago and given up on four months later. Again, when I woke up that day, I just knew it was time. I checked in with Coach, and he was good with it. When I finished, I plopped down on the bench in the locker room, drenched in sweat, internally celebrating. I took off my shoes, and then… there was Coach’s gentle voice. “Think you could do five more?”

By now, I’ve learned that Coach only asks me to do what he knows I can do, even if I don’t agree. We set a pace goal of 5:15 for the five miles. It was tough going, and I did them at 5:35 – one of the first times in a long time I hadn’t hit a goal, but still worth feeling good about. Again I headed to the locker room, and when I reached for the combination lock on my locker, the voice came again. “Think you could do two more?” I didn’t bother to spin the lock. “I’ll do three,” I said, and headed back out. My pace was 5:20.

I want to do my next elliptical machine marathon in 2:20:00. That’s a 5:20 pace. It will beat the world record for my age by 14 minutes. Then I want to run one as fast as those guys from Africa. That will be a 4:40 pace. And I want to celebrate my 60th birthday by running a real marathon under 3 hours.

No, I don’t actually run. All I have to do is glide. And no, I don’t count the time when I have to get off the machine to get water and tend to my physical limitations, which haven’t gotten any better – not yet, anyway.

So what do we learn from all this? You’ve long since figured out that this series of blog posts isn’t about running marathons on the elliptical machine. Instead, it’s about running past our limits, whatever they are. It’s about doing things we know are impossible. Apparently we can live in two realities at once. In one, there is no possible way we can do the thing we want. In the other reality, we can, and the first reality’s negative opinion doesn’t count. The first time we do it, we’re stunned and astonished, and so is everyone else. The second time, it’s just routine. What used to be impossible has now become the new normal.

What’s the new normal you’d like to create for yourself? Like I said back at the start, if all of us could tap into this idea of doing the impossible, we and our lives and our world would change, maybe overnight.

And all we have to do is just keep gliding along.

Five years ago, Kevin Rhodes left a successful 20+ years career in private practice to pursue a creative dream. He recently reopened his law practice, while continuing to write (screenplays and nonfiction) and lead workshops on change for a variety of audiences, including the CBA’s Job Search and Career Transitions Support Group. His latest workshop, Life in the Gap: Getting Over Your Inspiration Hangover and Translating Inspiration into Action, was held April 10, 2012. Watch for another program in the near future. This post originally appeared on his blog on July 20, 2012.
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  1. Great final post Kevin, made me think of Arthur C. Clarke’s quote (his second law I think?): “The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.” A favorite from an old desk calendar (remember those days?). What is the “new normal” when you discover that you can liberate yourself from your self-imposed limitations? I don’t know. I would say it is the uncertainty of the present moment, being open to the unfolding of what is – right now. I think that is a very personal normal, subject to constant change and redirection. A bit unsettling, but inherently liberating! Keep up the great posts.

  2. Kevin Rhodes says:

    Thanks, Barb, for your wonderfully thoughtful and beautifully expressed thoughts! This story has taken on a whole life of its own since the experiences I wrote about in this series. I may have to extend it!

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