That of course is one of the more famous movie quotes of the Clint Eastwood character, Dirty Harry from 1973's Magnum Force. So what has that got to do with running you may be thinking? Good question, but for some reason it pops into my head when I'm training or thinking about past or upcoming races. Most recently I thought of it as I was thinking about a friend that is currently exploring his limitations as a relative newbie to the ultra world and trying to improve on his marathon pr.
The fact is that we will never know our limitations unless we have the courage to go out and push ourselves out of our comfort zones. Once we take that next step into the unknown then we can began to see new possibilities and realize that most of the limitations we have are self-imposed. Ok, I know, that we do have to be somewhat realistic in our expectations. I know I'll never qualify to run in the Olympics and never could have but I can achieve faster times and finish bigger events if I just allow myself to dream a little and be willing to work hard toward a goal.
Friends and relations can be both a help and a hindrance as we go out and push the boundaries of what is possible for us and I will give examples of both.
When I was preparing to run my first 100 miler in 2004. I had been told by many that I should just run to finish and not worry about my time based on my previous experience and speed at shorter distances. Despite all the indicators suggesting that I would not be able to run under 24 hours, that was my goal and I felt in my heart that I would be successful. I ran 23:48 that day and immediately looked to other events to test myself further.
On the other hand in 2005 despite several attempts I had not been able to run under 4 hours for the marathon. I was resigned to the fact that I would never come close to the 3:35 I needed to qualify for Boston. It was only because of the encouragement of my friends Karla, Margo and Jerry that I would even give it a try. It was only after putting in the hard work over that Summer and Fall that I even began to believe it myself but by November I still was a long 12 minutes away from qualifying. But I remained focused and did the training and got my 3:35 just in time in February before the April Boston race. I still believe I would not have done it if not for Karla and some divine intervention but I do know for a fact that had I not been willing to do the work and push against the wall of my previous limitations I would never have made it to Boston.
So whats the point of this rambling ? I just hope all of you that read it will be inspired to dream and not be afraid to push beyond what you may think is possible. GO FOR IT !!!