My legs were jelly, my lungs on fire, my feet felt like cement. It was mile 20 of my first trail marathon. I only had to run 6.2 miles more but it may as well have been 620 miles left to run. Then, to add insult to injury, right at the mile 20 marker, I found myself staring up into the teeth of brutal mile-long climb. I was done. Sprit wrecked. Nothing left. Game over.
My twin brother had made a playlist to for me to listen to as a way of accompanying me on this arduous run. The night before, I'd loaded the songs onto my iPod and had made a point to not look at the content so that each song would be a surprise. Somewhere around mile 7, I smiled to hear one track which was simply my brothers voice saying, "Run! Run! Run! . . . Keep running! . . . Don't stop running."
So there I am at mile 20, ready to expire. At that point, my plan was simple: crawl under a rock to die. Just as I'm looking around for suitable rocks, into my earbuds bursts the powerful and iconic power chords of the heart-pumping adrenaline anthem, Eye of the Tiger by Survivor (fitting), the theme song used in at least one of the Rocky movies.
You know the song, don't pretend you don't. Sing along with me, "Dun. . . dun, dun, dun . . . dun, dun, duuuun. . . 'Risin' up, back on the street . . . Just a man and his will to survive ."
I'm embarrassed to say it but as cheeseball as that song is, and as much as my inner-hipster would have loved to just roll eyes or chuckle and continue on with plan A (dying under a rock), hearing that song caused something to stir inside of me. With Eye of the Tiger thumping in my ears, my eyes focused, my legs found some steel, and I forgot the burn in my lungs. Fueled by some hidden and mysterious power, I started to crush up that slope with singular resolve .
"It's the eye of the tiger, It's the thrill of the fight, rising up to the challenge of our rival. And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night and he's watching us all with the eye . . . OF THE TIGER!"
Now, I can't even read those lyrics with a straight face, however at the time nothing could have been more serious. At the top of that killer hill, I found myself even doing victory leaps, pounding my fist in the air as enthusiastically as Rocky Balboa himself after his impossible win.
I went on to finish the run, which, incidentally, was my very improbably plan B.
So one minute I was ready to die with absolutely nothing left in me and the next minute I had conquered what I felt was the impossible and had even found hidden strength to finish the race. No fuel. No sugar or caffeine. Just some cheesy song in my earbuds. What is that about?!
The topic of limiters, specifically the plasticity of your limits, has fascinated me, especially as I've explored my limits as it pertains to running. And I think even the notion of your limits being plastic is itself provocative.
Since my first killer trail marathon, I've been using some powerful techniques that help me understand limits for what they are: "perceived" limitations. I try not to see limits as Truth. We've all accomplished the impossible against all odds at sometime or other. I propose that we have much more power over our perceived limits than we think we do.
You can train a dog not to leave the yard for fear of getting a shock for doing so, a response that has been conditioned into that dogs brain even when there is no longer a mechanism that administers shocks. Likewise, we fail to see the truth about many of our own perceived limitations. What do you feel are your limitations in life? Do you have a boss you're tired of? Do you believe that you can never get ahead in your finances, or that you will never meet the love of your life?
In Yoga his misapprehension about limits or anything else is called Avidya, or the antithesis of clear seeing. First, understanding that we might have a misapprehension about something we've previously thought as Truth is a huge step in the right direction. So, to call our limitations perceived limitations rather than iron-clad barriers is very powerful in itself.
One of my favorite learning modules in my online Yoga Nidra course: Sourcing Your True Power, is the one where we focus on the notion of limiters; to understand them for what they truly are and to move past them by using the techniques of Yoga Nidra (a specific form of powerful guided meditation) as well as through the power of visualizations. The power of our beliefs works both for us or against us so why not program our minds to succeed or move past what we thought was previously impossible? A nice thought but in this course we Source Our True Power by understanding and practicing control over perceived limits.
So, I've registered for a half Ironman. It will probably be the biggest endurance event of my life to date. It happens this Saturday, July 16. It's 70.3 miles long: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run. Any trainer worth their salt would probably say that I've woefully undertrained for this event. They might say that while a wonderful, 3-week, fun-filled trip to Europe, replete with cheese, bread, beer, and pastries, may have wonders for my spirit, it may not have been the best way to prepare for a half Ironman.
However, I'm not worried about the race. I believe I can do it and that is that. I've been using Yoga Nidra, visualizations, and the malleable practice of belief as my secret ninja techniques of to hack these 70.3 miles. I've prepared my mind and spirit for the race in addition to all the other physical training I've done. Sure, my body needs to be ready but more importantly so does my mind.
I can certainly use all your good vibes and belief that I can do this too. So this Saturday, between the hours of 7 am to 1 pm, sometime visualize Scott Moore somewhere around Utah Lake Utah Valley randomly jumping up and down victoriously pumping his fists in the air.
I don't think they let you wear earbuds on a triathlon so I'll be the crazy, happy guy singing Eye of the Tiger to himself.