Three years ago, I wrote a post about failure in a tempo workout that inquired about M.H. Alderson, to whom the quote, “If at first you don’t succeed, you’re running about average,” is attributed.
This week, his family chimed in. As it turns out, Mr. Alderson was a pretty good guy. He earned a purple heart and two bronze stars, returned to the U.S., got married, became a small town newspaper publisher, a great father and a civic leader. He died of cancer in 1984. His quote was originally inspiring to me because I’ve read about so many successful people who started out with a string of failures. Even people who seem invincible, like Lance Armstrong and Richard Branson, have there bad days (like today in Mr. Armstrong’s case).
I remembered writing the post three years ago because it included a lot of fun quotes. I had forgotten why I wrote it. The two comments from Mr. Alderson’s family this week led me back to that post and I read it with a smile. As I previously mentioned, the post was about a failed tempo run. I was trying to run 3 miles at 7:35 pace. I only got 2 miles before I had to walk. At the time, I was wondering if I’d ever be any good at running. I was feeling a little bit like I’ve been feeling the last few weeks. I was questioning why I race and why I spend so much time at an activity that on the surface seems rather pointless.
That post from 3 years ago reminded me that it wasn’t pointless because this February I nearly held that 7:35 pace for 26.2 miles and one month before that, I held a 6:48 pace for 13.1. I’ve worked hard in the time since that post and I have improved – quite a bit. When the sun is hot and it’s hard to breathe and the workouts hurt, it can be hard to see that improvement, but if you’ve been consistent and you look back over a longer time, you can see that it does matter.
So, when your heroes are being plagued by doping scandals and sex scandals. When they don’t seem so much like great heroes anymore – and all heroes have their shares of bad moments (they are human after all) – look back at yourself. You may be your own hero.