"If you don't miss a flight once in a while, then you're wasting too much time waiting in the airport!" In other words, play-it-safe perfection isn't an optimal strategy. It's wiser to take risks, and sometimes fail --- in order to do better overall.
Analogously: for a runner DNF are scary, scarlet letters of shame. They stand for Did Not Finish --- meaning in some minds "Dropped Out", "Quit", "Couldn't Hack It", and the like. Through a combination of luck and cowardice, thus far I have yet to achieve a DNF. If I don't get one eventually then obviously I'm not trying hard enough.
As the autumn marathon season progresses I'm in injury-avoidance mode, not "training" now but rather exploring my limits. Some notes on the past few weeks of jogging:
After a week of recuperation from the Tussey Mountainback 2004 fifty mile hike, the old blistered feet are beginning feel good again ... so it's a fast (for me!) fun run, mostly sub-9 pace but with pauses to take photos of mileposts along the Paint Branch Trail ... I drop the kids off at UMCP and find the park on Metzerott Road near milepost 2 of the trail, where a young Asian-looking guy is silently practicing martial arts moves. Half a dozen pictures remain in the disposable camera, so away I go, first northwards to the trail's end near mile 4, then back to mile 1.5 and return, on a delightfully cool morning which makes it unnecessary to carry a water bottle.
A happy evening orbit from home via the Georgetown Branch Trail to Bethesda, then north along Old Georgetown Road to Cedar Lane to Rock Creek Trail, and thereby home. I run all the way, at a steady 10-11 min/mi pace, pausing only for major road crossings and to drink at water fountains. Rain begins during the first mile but soon ends. The final segment through Walter Reed Annex at 7:30pm is a bit scary-dark under the trees, but I climb the hills cautiously and avoid slipping. A big deer crosses the trail in front of me.
A cool Sunday, I'm missing a good image of milepost #6 on Rock Creek Trail, and there's another family disposable camera with a few shots left --- so I jog from home via Walter Reed Annex into Kensington, then back to the fountain near East-West Highway and home along the Georgetown Branch. As I reach Beach Drive I meet "Karen" who is doing ~4 miles today; we chat about her Marine Corps Marathon a decade ago, her experiences along the trail (including the time she found a cyclist, crashed and unconscious, below the Connecticut Avenue bridge), work, family, etc. ... as she sets a brisk pace ~10:15 minutes/mile. After she turns back I continue, photograph milepost 6, then reverse course and use the film up on 5, 4, 3, and 2. "Michael" then catches up with me and pulls me along at a ~9 min/mi trot, while he tells me that he refuses to do more than 10 miles at a time and has been running 25 years without injury. He leaves me with a handshake and best wishes for a good MCM. My average measured mile along the trail is 10:11, including photographic pauses and street crossing delays.
Brisk jog on a brisk morning, ~2 miles from home to the MCRRC race at "Candy Cane City" playground area on Rock Creek near DC. I rest half an hour and chat with Bob Y. and Christina C., plus comrades from a local running blog sprintbare.com "Tarzan Boy" and "Way-No" (hi!). I'm wearing my bright orange "#1" nylon shirt, which somebody remarks looks pumpkin-perfect for the Halloween season. After a walk around the nearby baseball field to brush mud off home plate and the pitcher's rubber, I start at the back of the pack and dash into a brilliant sun, with mile splits 7:57, 8:01, 8:02, plus 50 seconds for the final leg of the 5 km course. Two nice ladies pass me during the last mile and pull me along, as gusts of winds knock autumn leaves down to swirl around me. I finish in ~84th place overall, ~12th in my age/sex group. After cooldown and nosh I trot the long way home, ~3 miles. Feet and legs feel surprisingly good today, but psychosomatic aches are scheduled to develop during the coming week as the Marine Corps Marathon looms ...