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Intention: Living a life without expectation

I’ve been doing a lot of pondering lately.  I believe it’s possible to live a life without creating unreasonable expectations of self and others.

I’ve come to see that expectation leads to disappointment.  I’ve joked occasionally that this is why it’s good to live life as a pessimist: out of the two possible outcomes, a pessimist is either proven correct by the negative outcome, or pleasantly surprised in a positive outcome.  Truthfully though, I tend to be an eternal optimist.  I’m driven by seeing what’s possible rather than what is.

So, something’s going to happen in the future.  We know that in most situations, we don’t have the direct ability to affect the outcome.  Sure, we might want things to happen a certain way, but there are so many factors outside of our control (say, for the weather to improve, or for my local barista to make me a respectable mocha).  I don’t doubt that you can think of a few examples from your own life where something happened that didn’t involve your input.

When I create expectation about things that I don’t control, and then attach the emotion of disappointment or satisfaction to them, that must be serving me in some way, right?  Disappointment first: Now I get to complain about something that wasn’t done right.  Someone messed up, and it wasn’t me.  I’m right, and you’re wrong.  Alternatively, let’s say things went well.  Now I get to take credit for it, but really never had any claim on the outcome in the first place.  But being right sure feels good, doesn’t it?

Really though, people don’t often do what I think they should.  And inevitably, I can find something wrong with the weather.  Maybe it’ll be too hot.  Maybe it won’t be windy enough to fly a kite.  And, that mocha, it’s a little too bitter today.  These things are outside of our individual control.  We created an expectation, and we were disappointed.  And then usually, we turn that disappointment into “I’m not good enough” or “Why does the world hate me?”

My rejection of expectation doesn’t come from a rejection of the responsibility that comes with living in a set of communities or in a family.  On the contrary: It is a wholehearted acceptance of responsibility.  Real, personal responsibility.  It’s taking back responsibility for the things in your life that you can affect real, positive change.

But what about things that are inside our control?  For me in my training, I could conceivably expect to make a certain time at my next race.  Easy.  I’ll have no problem coming in under an hour on this or that.  I can do that in my sleep, practically.  And if that’s true, there’s really no point hitting the spin class tonight, so I’ll go see a movie and eat a tub of buttered popcorn instead.

The astute will see what happened there: I was able to completely absolve responsibility for my training, leaving it entirely up to fate, if you will.

On one hand, it might be reasonable to expect things of yourself.  You’re in control of your own destiny.  But on the other hand, we don’t really know what’s around that next corner.  It might be something good, or it might be something bad.  But we can definitely learn from it.


2010 In Review

I almost forgot, I have a training blog.  Yes, it’s been a while.  But, since we’re in the closing days of the year, what better time to sit back and reflect on the training year and race season gone by?

Early in the year, I was kind of aimless in my training.  I occasionally set out from my old place, across the bridge and back.  I was a SportMedBC Sun Run InTraining Clinic leader again, but didn’t actually run the 10k because my physio told me not to.  I sat back and watched the clinic participants cross the finish line, and nursed my leg back to health.

In June, I started a 13-week training program for my first half-marathon.  I completed my first half-marathon in October.

In July, I got a road bike and tricked it out with aero bars and a tri-specific saddle.  In August, I found a swimmer to team up with, and raced the last two legs of the sprint-distance triathlon in Sooke.  My bike split was respectable, but not being used to running off the bike, I felt really slow on the 5k run (28 minutes).

In August, I also went to Kelowna to watch Paula Findlay and Simon Whitfield kick ass, and to cheer on a few friends at the Kelowna Apple Triathlon.  I rode the Oly bike course the day before the race, and made plans to sign up for 2011.

Total distances for 2010: Swim 46k, Bike 925k, Run 697k.

Taking myself seriously

I spent the majority of Thursday in transit.  A 3.5 hour flight to Toronto and a long drive into cottage country.  Bancroft.  When I travel, I make it a game of sorts, especially when I’m flying, to pack as light as possible.  So I’m not really sure why I chose to pack two pairs of running shoes, along with the pair I wore on the flight.

Maybe it’s because I take my sport seriously.  I’m beginning to, anyway.  I think the trick is to have a big red circle on the calendar.  It creates a context for the day-to-day.  I have about 4 more training runs, ranging from 30 to 90 minutes.  Those become the first thing to get slotted into my schedule.  And my family, who I’m visiting while in Ontario, are surprisingly supportive. Not that they’d be unsupportive, I’m just not used to people understanding my obsessions.

It’s really no big deal…

Gun Time 53:05
Chip Time 55:22
Place Overall 126/740
Place in Sex 90/245
Place in Age Group 28/69

BMO Okanagan Marathon 10k

I ran my personal best 10k today, with a chip time of 52:22.  Everyone I know wants me to know how big of a deal this is, but it really isn’t.  Don’t get me wrong, though: I’m by no means suggesting that I’m not happy with my new PR.  All I’m saying is that there isn’t anything innately extraordinary about running 10k.

Anyone can do it.  I really believe that.  The only differences between us laypeople and the elite professionals: they have been doing it longer, they have been training harder, and someone is paying them to do it.  I firmly believe that anyone is capable of doing extraordinary things; it’s just that the majority of us don’t realize our own potential, myself included.

I am thrilled that I smashed my former PR, by over ten minutes.  I am scared though, that for my next 10k, I will be faced with a different measuring stick.

So I have a choice to make.  Do I rest on my laurels, having achieved a new standard?

At the same time, I don’t know what I’m capable of, and there is only one way to find out.  For me, the choice is simple.  I shall continue to push myself, and see what I am capable of.  I encourage you to do the same.

Training continues


I’m a runner turning triathlete.  I’m a middle-of-the-pack runner, a half-decent cyclist and a crappy swimmer.  Currently, I’m finishing up the last 3 weeks of training for my first half-marathon on October 24.  After that, I’m signing up for my first “real” triathlon: 750m swim, 20k bike and 5k run.

My plan for the winter: be able to complete a 750m swim, and work on the 5k run pace.