Inspired inspiring inspire…

Yesterday I read about Joan Benoit Samuelson who turned sixty this month aiming  for a sub three hour marathon…

The current world record for the 60-64 age group is 3:01:30 which was run by New Zealand’s Bernie Portenski in 2010…

Joan previously held the world record in the marathon, when she ran 2:22:43 for the win at the 1983 Boston Marathon and then 2:21:21 at the 1985 Chicago Marathon… So she is a class runner…!

Reading about her new goal, I could feel the stirrings within me…

I’ve never really been sure if I even actually like running marathons! And yet, right from the very first one I ran in 1982, they are the distance that does this inner thing to me ….

An inner ‘thing’ has no explanation; it is an insistent voice; it knows the best way for our growth, the route we must take to find things out… And so this is why we must listen to it…

With any yearning or vision that arises within us; it is not the end result that is ever of the most importance; it is that the journey towards this chimera – this illusion on the stage of life – is where we will discover who we are and where we need to let go of even more…

So that we can ultimately let go of all we define ourselves by and of course eventually our body, the very vehicle that carries us through this human journey.

The paradox is whilst we are striving towards ‘something’ so that our spirit can soar and experience pure expression – uncovering and unravelling and releasing anything that blocks us as we go… We are also involved in a process of letting go of the very thing that we are aiming for…

It is a whole 2 years until I am sixty, and who knows what will happen between now and then…!

But, even the stirrings of a goal shine the light on where I need to strengthen and balance; the work that would be necessary for me to contemplate racing a half marathon again, let alone a marathon…

A journey ‘towards my own Ithaca’ will undoubtedly set me more free…

‘When you start on your journey to Ithaca,
then pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge….’

Ithaca,  by -K. P. Kavafis (C. P. Cavafy), one of my favourite poems, starts this way…

The text says it all for me, there is more of the poem than I have copied here, but it finishes thus….

‘Always keep Ithaca fixed in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for long years;
and even to anchor at the isle when you are old,
rich with all that you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have taken the road.
But she has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not defrauded you.
With the great wisdom you have gained, with so much experience,
you must surely have understood by then what Ithacas mean’

And, so we all have our own Ithaca to journey towards, and as I wrote in a recent post; when we do our own thing, as Joan Benoit Samuelson is doing, we inspire others without even knowing it…

And I am inspired…

So much so that this morning I completed my first ever bare foot interval session on the road… A five mile run with stretches of speed play in it, ranging from about 30 seconds to a couple of minutes, maybe more… I had no watch so it was very much the ‘speed play’ fartlek is meant to be….

And really and truly part of my inspiration is to keep playing; I am loving my running more than I ever have in my life, and it being an expression of play feels the way to go.

I was too hard on myself as a young runner; and so with the years of experience under my belt it is time now to play again and truly enjoy the road to Ithaca….