Goals are good.
When we set them, we tend to focus more. We’re disciplined. We’re motivated. We have a plan. We work toward that goal with a singular mindset. Those folks known as motivational speakers often speak of the importance of setting goals. Not dreams, when you wish for something, like, “I hope I can visit Paris one day.” That will likely remain a dream.
Goals are different. They’re something that you want to do, a place to see, and you have a plan to get it done. If you don’t have goals, they say, it’s like setting sail without having a direction. You’ll wind up wherever the wind takes you. And chances are, you won’t like where you end up.
Set a goal, work, believe, and it will happen. If it doesn’t, at least you’ll know you tried your best.
If you don’t set a goal, if you don’t believe, if you don’t try, guess what? It won’t happen.
While knowing that, I’m still not great at setting goals. I tend to be one of those people who makes their way through each day, with some short-term goals, like exercising in the morning and saying my prayers. But not much long-term, like where do I want to be 10 years from now, or mapping out a trip to Australia, or saving money for retirement, which would just be smart, anyway.
But there is one goal every year that drives me. I become more determined and dedicated than almost any other time of the year. It’s a time I become fixated and determined. I outline a plan. I stick to it. I am highly motivated. It is almost all that really matters.
That time is now.
The goal is Bloomsday.
This 7.46-mile run in Spokane, Washington is going on 40 years and it is May 1, just two and a half weeks away. It attracts about 45,000 runners and walkers. It is a spring tradition in the Pacific Northwest that continues to unite young and old, short and tall, fast and slow. This race, over a difficult course, home of the famous “Doomsday Hill,” where a vulture waits at the top, has become the benchmark for the level of my running. It is what counts. Sons and daughters run it. Brothers. Nephews and nieces. Relatives from Montana and Seattle. Even my wife, one year, pushed one of our children on a stroller over the entire course — and vowed never, ever to do that again. There were two years I ran the course twice. Afterward, we all meet to recount the day, smile and laugh and enjoy the moments.
I ran it for 21 years straight, I think, before moving to Kauai. This year, like the last two, I will fly home to run this race (Bonus this year! Our oldest daughter will be having our second grandchild about May 4. Perfect. I get the race and a new grandson). I can no longer beat my oldest son, but I can still give my youngest daughter a battle. She beat me for the first time two years ago. Last year, I got my revenge, but it was tainted because she was sick. This year, she’s feeling fast and fit again, has posted some great training times of late, so I’m a little worried.
But that’s why I’m in the midst of Bloomsday training. So I can beat Father Time. So I can prove I can still run fast. So I train daily — running streak at 143 days and counting — daily near our Lihue home. Long runs to Ahukini Harbor. Speed work at Vidinha Stadium. Sprint repeats by the airport. Laps, as fast as I can go, around the 3.25-mile road at the Kauai Marriott. Running so hard it’s no fun and I want to quit, but I don’t.
Despite my preparations, come race day, there are no guarantees. I may falter. Perhaps the red-eye flight three days before will zap my energy.
Then again, perhaps, in those early miles, I’ll feel wonderful. Perhaps I’ll feel light and strong and like I’m 25 again.
And maybe, just maybe, when I’m gasping for air with every stride over the last 400 meters, I’ll collapse when I cross the finish line, crumble to my hands and knees. It is then, I’ll know I absolutely gave it every bit of strength and speed that I had on that day. I left nothing. I could do no more. It was my very best.
That’s my goal for 7.46 miles, and beyond.
Bill Buley is editor-in-chief of The Garden Island. He can be reached at email@example.com