Thirty years ago, I was a teenage soccer and rugby fanatic. Quick on my feet, good sprinter and good strategist made a great pick for regional and local games. I was, to be fair, a kid in great shape.

Fast forward to five years ago.  Married, kids, work promotions, working through the night and week ends, eating on the run made me a successful yet unhappy and severely unhealthy, overweight forty-something man.

At that point, I chose to retake control of my life. Not let it control me. I started running. And feeling better. And loving the challenge in every run. Rain or shine, well rested or not. 

My body though, would not cooperate. And periodically break down. Muscle pulls, ankle sprains, high arches needing insoles, IT band making my life miserable, and most recently Patellofemoral syndrome (PFS). Four weeks of physical therapy.

From one injury to the next, I have recovered. I have gotten stronger and smarter about my body and my running. Yet, I still break down.

Should I conclude that running is out of the question? Is it the inevitable fact?  Why can I PR a 5K at age 48 (24:26) and cannot get my knees to cooperate?

My Cool Impossible (running fifty 50Ks by age 50K) has been within reach, getting ever closer every year, yet vanishing in an instant every injury.

But I was wrong. My Cool Impossible is not about conquering the outdoors, one 50K at a time.

It's about grit, courage and resolve. It's about banishing my fear of getting old. It's about accepting my flaws and strengths. I'll get stronger, smarter and older. Embrace it all. Beyond fear. Beyond limits.

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Comment by Lori Enlow on March 11, 2014 at 5:14pm
Thanks for sharing chris! Your piece really resonated in me as well.
Comment by Chris Bonnemaison on March 11, 2014 at 10:16am

Lori, this is so spot on!

What you write resonates with me on many levels.

My last races were RD-ed by Baz Hawley. Over the past decade, he's organized races where elites runners like Rob McNair and Jesse Haynes earned their stripes. In hindsight, if I had known what I got myself into when I signed up, I would run home to Momma. 

But five races and a snazzy finisher shirt later, in spite of pains and aches, I can look back at what I accomplished with pride. I ran hard races with the strongest people around. I finished. Or like my brother so poetically put it "your ((expletive deleted)) dropped".

I am busted up but I am smarter. I have learned so much. I'll get stronger again. 

"...these thoughts, it's what we DO with them that determines the future. "

Comment by Lori Enlow on March 11, 2014 at 8:35am

Great attitude! ...and onward and upward I say. This does get me thinking a bit (surprise i know!). In my own world my focus gets so narrowed on the here and now, and I often think I am the only one with some sort of defect that keeps me from being Ellie Greenwood. But listen to that! How self centered and absorbed! Like I even know Ellie Greenwood's world. I know I often think those faster than me, those that run race after race, run farther, higher, etc...don't struggle with the same things I do. The reality is they do (pssst...they ALL do). Our bodies are not perfect, they are a work in progress, sometimes they feel like a CSI crime scene... especially with injuries. We investigate, question, ask for help, adjust and tinker. This is not bad, it's all good and developing you to be a stronger you....a lifelong runner, a lover of the outdoors and fitness. Aches and pains are temporary. They are teaching us about ourselves and as we tinker and learn they pass, we become stronger. Just like a long run, our bodies are a work in process. There have been times on my long runs and races that my focus zeroes in on the moment, usually pain or fatigue will induce it and I wonder why bother? why continue? I'm going to be miserable for the next 20 miles..why am I doing this to myself? Thank God I didn't quit (or people wouldn't let me)..because what I have learned (and continually have to re-learn each time I am faced with these feelings). Is that they are temporary...a brief moment in the story, not even a commercial's length. It's what we do with these moments that determine the course of the movie. I have been completely awestruck and humbled to see myself so completely and utterly convinced I could NOT take another go on and complete 50 more miles. HOW is that EVEN POSSIBLE? It shouldn't be possible, I SHOULD have stopped. It took me 29 minutes to run (downhill) 1 mile at mile 46 of a 100 mile race. I somehow recovered and went on to run! now this is the most extreme example for me...I have felt this same feeling at a 5k race at 3K.....It's what we do with what we think and feel and choose...We feel all these feelings and think all these thoughts, it's what we DO with them that determines the future. 

Comment by Chris Bonnemaison on March 11, 2014 at 7:52am

David, Macchu Picchu at 70 is amazing! Perfect example of resolve. 

Comment by Chris Bonnemaison on March 11, 2014 at 7:45am

Robert, you're welcome.  I am glad that this stream of random thoughts turned out to be inspiring for you. I think that we're here to create athleticism in ourselves. Developing this quality of mental and physical strength cannot happen in a day.

Comment by David Tepper on March 11, 2014 at 3:57am
Dad climbed machu picchu when nearly 70, no training, he was a farmer at the time, retired now. To put more perspective on it there were only half a dozen out of the group of over 30 who made it and nearly all of the others were under 30 years of age. Dad's no fitness fanatic, just wanted to do it. I reckon if you want to do 50k by age 50 you will.. Just need to chip away at it :) and you've got a great attitude so all the better for you.
Comment by Robert B Hiser Jr on March 10, 2014 at 9:09pm

Chris - Seems we have in common many things.  About same age, I am 49.  Injuries, yep have had them too.  It sucks.  But you do what you can do.  I accept that.  As you have.  Great closing remarks on your post.  Thanks for the inspiration. 

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