“Do you ever have a bad day?” is a question that I’m commonly asked. And though I am not some kind of super-optimist with a permanent smile on his face, I have put a stop to having bad days.
To answer the question then, well, it’s always the same…
“Life is good, even when it’s bad.”
You can stop having bad days too. Heck, we can all stop having bad days!
Wow, I do sound like some kind of lame super-optimist, but hear me out…
Life is made up of sequential moments in experience, where every moment is constantly shifting or evolving into the subsequent moment to follow. With the constant evolution of time unfolding into the next second, we are eluded by the seconds that came before it.
Impermanence is the concept that comes to mind, working its wonder, we find that nothing lasts forever.
What is at one moment, no longer will be at its next.
Even the most seemingly steadfast things in this world are something else from second to second, even if only in marginal ways.
Let’s look to the mountains for this example. From base to peak, every mountain is constantly shifting, and eroding. And as gradual as the process is, surely, it is a different mountain today than it was yesterday.
Understanding Impermanence Makes Your Life Better.
We are manipulated by our pain, losing sight of the impermanence behind it.
Get Out Of The Downpour –Stop Having Bad Days.
If life is raining down on you, it’s only a matter of time before the sky clears out above. If it doesn’t, well, there are beautiful moments and simple pleasures to find in the rain if you’re open to it.
We can’t deny any unbearableness of the difficult encounters we experience, as we may come to face many moments that morally defeat us.
Even still, the best thing we can do when facing hardship is to keep moving forward. That way, there is always something to look forward to.
There‘s Always Something To Look Forward To.
For example, in facing our ultimate demise, we can look forward to the Afterlife.
You can find solace in that even if you aren’t spiritual in any sense.
As you may believe in nothing, understand that an Afterlife filled with nothing is peaceful too. Because nothing, may be better than whatever pain plagues you.
Can you see what I did there?
It’s all a state of mind.
It just takes practice to allow yourself an opportunity to let go. Stop clumping time forward by carrying your pitfalls –no more bad days!
It’s ‘Hope’ That Keeps Us Going.
If you’re clouded in spirit, and feel as if there is nothing better for you down the road, look forward to something finding you by surprise.
That is what hope is, and it’s all we have alongside a strong faith to get us by, to move us away, or to simply hold on as we put forward a valiant effort in action.
Through thick and thin, action is necessary.
We must not let our fears permanently paralyze us.
Make a choice, choosing to move ourselves in one direction or another, regardless of its difficulty.
We must try, for the sake of finding the good road ahead.
Stop-Start, No Bad Days: Run-Bike-Run Kielder Marathon.
Due to the world events that we shall never speak of again, this has been the first organized race that I have participated in since the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2019. There have been some long days between now and then, which weren’t all that bad, so we’ll stop there.
Albeit my first duathlon, I went into the Kielder Marathon with a target time to finish between 02:30:00 and 02:45:00.
My official time was 02:57:22.
I blasted through the first 11km run, and made good time cycling 25kms –despite using my girlfriend’s sister’s medium sized bike.
I need my own bike considering that I’d like to compete in some other duathlons, and to cycle more in general. But having had my last bike stolen before leaving Toronto, the thought of buying a shiny new hybrid makes me uneasy.
Walking out of Sobeys to find a grinded out lock on the ground with no bike, I was overwhelmed with a heartfelt injustice.
A shitty moment, most definitely, making it the second bike lost to someone’s sticky fingers. But we accept the difficult situation at hand, for when there is no resolution in our favour, we must shrug our shoulders as if to say…
“Oh well, f*ck it!”
Even still, in leading up to that moment, I wouldn’t go as far to say that I had a bad day, –I chose to stop having those remember...
On the contrary, until that point I was having a great day, and it remains a great day in memory. Especially after the fact, as disappointed as I was, I still had other things to smile and laugh at, or to find joy in alongside the company of others.
But back to race day.
I was running on a high, feeling empowered and high-spirited through the bulk of the race. But the wall was waiting for me somewhere along the last 6km run, and that final stretch became the death of me.
I still felt morally upbeat in good spirits, but dropping the ball with my intra-race nutrition, despite knowing better, set me up to underperform.
Fail to Plan, Plan To Fail.
Okay, I wasn’t totally unprepared, because I had somewhat strategized plan. What ruined me was failing to implement it.
I tend to eat relatively light throughout the working day. By the time I break for a workout, or run that afternoon, I am borderline empty.
After a long day working outside, the enthusiasm to go to the gym, or make for the trail just isn’t there late in the day.
It’s quite exhaustive really, but I know from past experience that I will find the energy to train, and I will enjoy it once I show up to do so. Fighting off the urge to fall asleep on the floor, I’ll chug down some BCAA’s if I have any, and I’ll go from there.
Training empty is something that I have been doing for years now, and truthfully, it’s likely why my body feels worse for it. For this reason, and more, is why I am going forward to include more frequent meals and plenty more carbohydrates.
A story for another day perhaps, but to keep it short, my goals have changed. Likewise, I have a better understanding of the physiological and emotional links between food and body and mind.
All in all, I am trying to genuinely listen to my body’s needs for the sake of my overall wellbeing.
Race Day Fueling
Knowing that I can handle nutritional depletion pretty well, I also knew that this may be slightly different. This wasn’t a routine run where I could feel it out and slow down where necessary, it was a race to make my own time standard. And so I figured that I would need more fuel for more power output.
Despite thinking this way, I ate a light the night before and even lighter the morning of, washing it down with plenty of BCAA’s leading up to the race. My plan was to leave a banana at the first transition along with more BCAA’s, but I only left a banana for no real reason.
“I’ll be fine.” I thought, chalking it up to fear and doubt.
Expecting to find water and electrolyte stations along the race, I figured that I would use what was there instead of concerning myself too much over bringing my own fluids.
I had half a banana as I got to my bike to complete the first 11km run, saving the other half for after the cycling the 25km ahead.
Although I could have done with a two bananas between transitions, my fluid intake was the most obvious culprit leading up to hitting the wall.
You don’t need water yet; Come on, go a little bit more; Come on, you’re almost there; Come on, a little a bit further; Come on You bitch, move it!
If I’m honest, I shot myself in the foot.
Shoulda, coulda, woulda– My ego got the best of me, as I omitted drinking anything until it was too late.
I was so worried about losing time having to stop and hydrate, particularly through the cycling portion.
As for the running, eating anything substantial also worried me, looking to avoid any gastrointestinal distress. This is why I prefer to run on an empty stomach, because running hard makes me crap my pants… True story.
All in all, I felt good and strong throughout most of the race, only starting to feel a bit wonky coming into the final kilometres by bike.
Feeling Wonky. It’s nothing new.
I often train feeling terrible, stiff, and tired, therefore half expected to get googly-eyed at some point through the race. The last few kilometres on the bike felt decent, even if I was starting to see stars. Besides, despite oddly fantasizing about cheeseburgers through those moments, looking forward to the rest of that banana mildly excited me.
My goal was realistic for my capabilities, and it is something that I often thought over while training up to the race.
At most, I’d run 11kms in 1hour, and 6km in 30-35 minutes. With 1.5 hours to running alone, I was most insecure about my timing on the bike. At best, I would have to cover the distance in one hour, fearing that it would take me 1.5 hours at worst.
Coming to a halt with the bike, I looked to my watch to see that I was still in good shape to hit the top end of my goal. My performance was good thus far putting my insecurities behind me. All was well, until my feet hit the ground going into the final run.
I climbed down off the bike, my posture moulded to its medium proportions, while my feet felt like concrete blocks that were soaked and vibrated numb from cycling. I reached for the rest of my banana to find the downpour had waterlogged the exposed fruit, caking it over with grit. –It was deliciously gritty.
After eating the banana, I was looking for something to hydrate. One of the events marshals nearby pointed off somewhere into the trees while uttering the words “juice”, surely referring to an electrolyte sports drink. That’s exactly what I wanted, some sweet and salty concoction straight into my bloodstream.
Shuffling my way out with an outstretched arm, a squeezable water pouch made its way into my hand.
“Where’s that damn juice?!” I thought.
By the time I saw two giant pink jugs of it around the corner, it felt like more of an effort to stop. With that squeezy water pressed flat into my face, my feet kept me moving without hesitation…
“Fuck it, it’s the last stretch. Just 30 more minutes, and you’re done.” I mumbled to myself.
And That Was It, My Final Mistake.
My muscles were desperate for whatever sugar and sodium was mixed into those jugs of pink deliciousness, and I ran right past it.
Consequently, a half-hour routine run for that distance turned into a 45-minute fight with cramping quads. What I feared most in that moment was risking injury as my muscles spasmed, shooting pain from knee to thigh with every stride.
With my goal still in mind, I thought to strategize some time for recovery, slowing myself down to a walk. The intention was to rejuvenate my stride, but contrary to thought, walking was a mistake because it was somehow worse than running. It also chewed up more time than I’d anticipated because my body forced me to a standstill.
Shuffling ahead between squat and stretch I’d capitalize on any momentary relief, closing the gap to the finish line.
It was this crucial 15 minutes where I lost traction on my goal.
Runner after runner now passing me by. Runners that I passed early on along the first phase of the race we now catching up to surpass me. –The magic behind the strategy of nutrition and a regimented pace, perhaps.
Talk about The tortoise and the hare.
Here I am, feeling like a well oiled machine being outpaced by rickety Jim and Jane.
A humbling experience actually, and it brings my mind back to the Camino. Whereby I would find people of all shapes and sizes, age and ability making the pilgrimage to Santiago for themselves.
A vivid memory was walking past a blind man and his guide along the crest of some rocky hills in Spain.
If he was out there breaking barriers and perceived limitations, what excuses do I, or anyone else have to keep us from our yearned successes and experiences.
Truly inspiring, and it is the reason as to why I say that regular people inspire me most as we encounter regular people regularly. – I know, I have a way with words.
We may look to the limelight and find the stars of humanity. And though some of them have achieved miraculous things, we must never place them on a pedestal so high as to invoke a sense of inability for ourselves.
Regardless of who or what you are, where you came from, or where you’re going, you are always capable of greatness in some way shape, or form.
Sometimes We’re Bound To Simply Surviving
Prior to the race, I had informally met a a mother-daughter tandem who were running alongside a mutual friend. Now shuffling toward the finish, the mother-daughter duo paced by me and asked how I was doing.
“My quads keep cramping up.” I muttered back.
In hearing my response, they offered me up an Apple SIS gel for my troubles.
Life’s Little Reminders
In the past, I would refuse help from others despite needing it, excessive pride being one of the seven deadly sins. But, it’s not the sin part that bothers me.
I could never understand why I’d be so reluctant to accept genuine good deeds and offerings from others. Perhaps it is a seeding fear of weakness.
Ironically enough, that fear of weakness contributes to my own weakness, as it links into the feelings of being a burden for others. –I don’t want to be a bother, but who does?
Either way, learning to accept help was something for me to overcome, as they were lessons to grow from throughout the course of my life. As far as that goes, journeying along the Camino trail helped expedite that process.
We mustn’t forget where we came from.
I could feel my pride rise up as they offered me up that delicious Apple SIS gel. But as quickly as the emotions surfaced, I rerouted my thoughts to accept their good deed alongside the fact that I was both struggling, and failing.
Give credit where credit is due; they were a godsend to me in that moment, and they smashed their race together.
Adapt or Die
Those were the pivotal moments to refocus my goals, the aim now targeted to finish what I started, while striving under the 3-hour mark.
Surely, there is a mild sense of disappointment knowing that I could have better controlled the outcome of the situation. However, there is plenty of good and great to walk away with in my performance.
With that in mind, we can find success in failure depending on where our focus is. Regarding the latter, it is important to acknowledge for yourself. What went right, being just as important as what went wrong.
Lean Into Failure
All Smiles. –Cycling the last 10 minutes to transition, and running through the final kilometre to finish.
All in all, I wasn’t strong enough; the cramps got the best of me.
To be blunt about it, I failed to achieve my goal. Being totally honest, I failed to achieve yet another goal.
I fail, and fail often.
In my day to day, I drop the ball on my vision; with my diet; in my workouts; in my relationship; at work; with family and friends...
In Life I Am A Failure, But Failure comes with the effort to achieve.
It teaches you important lessons on how, what, or why you missed the mark, and what you can do about it.
Success is slim, really, because we are constantly striving for ideals that adapt and evolve as we achieve whatever ideal came before it.
Flexible Goals And Adaptation
Again, I failed my race time. In the moment of failure, I can hang my head, give up, or drop out. Or, I can adapt to the circumstances looking to make it out as whole as possible.
See, the goal changes then and there, when we’re in the thick of it for ourselves. Even in failure, I am left with a choice on how to carry myself forward.
What else is there to do but to put one foot forward again, and again until we meet the mark, to do our best, or to simply survive.
We will fail, and fail often.
All of us.
Even the best of us, and especially the best of us. As losers lose, winners do both.
There is no sense getting caught up in what didn’t go our way, because it’s the wrong thing to focus on. Doing so only strips us of the gratifying experience to learn, grow, and piece together missing information geared towards success.
That is why I smile or laugh, even when facing unfavourable circumstances for myself. –A relieving outburst of expression wrapped into the arduous path forward.
But I haven’t always been this way, opting to sulk in self-pity instead. But, I am fortunate enough to have been shaped towards better by the strong characters I’ve encountered, and by those I look up to and admire.
To point it out again, give credit where credit is due. Likewise, it’s important to grant myself credit for having trained into the capacity to be more resilient. After all, we are makers of our own choosing.
Embrace the ability to choose for yourself without overlooking your efforts in the making. And do so alongside the gracious contributions of others, as your life has been shaped by energy of characters you’ve been exposed to.
Crossing the finish line brought a different experience altogether. The race was done, but my fight was ongoing. My body was having a hard time regulating temperature following the stress of a 42km duathlon.
Back in 2019, the organizers for the Toronto Marathon handed out thermal blankets at the finish, but there was nothing of the sort here. To make things worse, I didn’t leave anything for the bag drop, and my raincoat was still with my bike. Any warm and dry clothing was in my car, 15+ minutes away by shuttle.
At this point, I didn’t think much into it, I was just glad to be done.
I caught up with my girlfriend and some mutual friends at the finish line who were waiting for other runners to cross. In that time I had another banana, more water, a tiny KitKat bar, and some chewable taffy that came with the post-race baggy they gave out.
It wasn’t that cheeseburger I’ve been dreaming about, just simple sugars lacking any nourishing substance and salt. They did toss in a bag of bath salts, but I wasn’t about to dive into a spoonful of that stuff.
It was about 20 minutes past my finish, my hat and clothing still soaked with sweat, and my shoes still damp from the puddles and rain. I was starting to get cold, and luckily I put on a dry-fit t-shirt they gave me upon completing the race.
It helped me feel better temporarily, but another heavy drizzle started coming down overhead. All that sugar I ate was making my energy crash now, leaving me feeling nauseated sick, and generally very terrible.
A Slow Death.
I gave my girlfriend a nudge with glazed eyes to make our way back. My body was cold, stiff, and shivering as the rain intensified, making the 5-minute walk to the shuttle feel longer than it was.
I found some relief once on board the bus because it was warm and out of the rain. However, warm wasn’t warm enough, and the circulating air felt cooler once the bust started rolling. I tried to keep myself together in those moments as I continued to violently shake cold, drawing my focusing to slowly breathe into my shirt through blue lips.
“We’re almost there.” I kept thinkin.
my girlfriend reassured me in kind, her face growing increasingly concerned. “How are you feeling?” she asked.
“I kind of feel like I’m about to die.” I responded with laughter.
In the physical distress, my focus remained on one slow breath after another trying to relax my musculature. The shuttle couldn’t get there fast enough.
Truthfully, I was on a different high at that point. As unbearable as it was, I could not help but smile and laugh at my own predicament.
It was what it was.
Of course, I could see the way out.
I knew where my car was, I knew what was in it, and I knew that I would sit my ass in the front seat with the heat on full blast. It was glorious to think about while physically fighting it out on the shuttle.
Finally, the bus came to its halt and we got off. The last stretch on foot back to the car was even more hilarious than the moments before.
The rain had ceased and the sky showed off a crisp late afternoon blue, while the low sun made room for the forest shadows to cascade over us along the path.
“It’s beautiful out here.” is what I might have said if I wasn’t so f*cking worked.
My legs were totally shot now, the cramps in my quads made their comeback in full force. One step after the other, chasing a visibly cold breath as it escaped my chattering teeth.
I don’t know what I must have looked like to those passing me by on foot, let alone what they may have thought about it. The visual I get in memory of the experience is that I was walking around like Cosmo Kramer in those tight jeans.
Finally making the scramble back to the car, I stripped down trying hard to keep from falling over. Success, I put on some dry layers, sat in the front seat and swivelled the dial on full for the heat. –Oh baby, how glorious!
In hindsight, I find it hilarious from the warm cushion of my couch. Quite truly –ironically, a miserably yearned moment in adventure, but I could only imagine how torturous over-exposure would be.
All in all, it was about an hour experience since crossing the finish line.
As shitty as it felt, the best I could do in that suffering was to take the same approach to get me by:
To take it step by step.
Or in this case, second to second, breath to breath.
Sometimes it’s all we can do when time comes to standstill in our suffering.
So, Do You Ever Have Bad Days?
Do I ever have bad days? I think the best answer I can give someone is no.
No. I don’t have bad days, I have bad moments.
I say this because I also have good, great, and beautiful moments all in the same day. Heck, some of my most gratifying experiences have come at the end of a seemingly terrible day.
**Especially considering that I got myself that giant cheeseburger with sweet potato fries when I got home.**
That’s grace, maybe, but it is something to look forward to, and something to smile about when trouble finds us.
That alone is energizing, our hope propels us forward and the suffering that we are experiencing in the moment goes on standby, even if just for a moment, as it is enough of a moment in peace to revel and rejoice in.
George Kourtesiotis –Littermature.
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