It was 5.37pm GMT, 27 February 2015. I just gotten changed into my running kit and was about to set off when I saw the BBC news app on my phone light up with Leonard Nimoy had died. I didn’t know him but I admired his acting, writing, directing and all round creative output. In one of my other identities I was a Twitter follower of his and found his rather zen perspective of the universe rather warming. The man and the legend are a loss to the world but I’ll have many happy memories of growing up with Leonard Nimoy around.
However, this is a blog about running isn’t it? Surely I can’t have a Leonard Nimoy related anecdote that segways seamlessly into my love of pounding trails? Well kinda.
‘You’re a great one for logic, I’m a great one for rushing in where angels fear to tread. We’re both extremists – reality is probably somewhere in between’ Captain James T Kirk to Captain Spock, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
My approach to running has always been much more the Kirk approach – fire first, ask questions later but when I was faced with a real challenge during the final couple of hours of an ultra last year it was the more focused, logical qualities of Spock that were needed.
As a child (of about 12) I memorised the entire screenplay from Star Trek VI* – geeky I know. It’s sooooo geeky** that I can even hear the background music, sound effects (even to this day it’s all pretty clear).
So as a series of painful blisters were causing me trauma at mile 37 – I tuned into what I deemed the ‘Spock Zone’ and in my head I started to play out Star Trek VI – I became Christopher Plummer, Bill Shatner, Jimmy Doohan, even Nichelle Nichols ‘well the things gotta have a tailpipe’.
I reached 3 miles from the finish line and in my mental retelling of the sixth instalment of the Star Trek movies, I had captured Valeris, Sulu was on his way ‘fly her apart then’ and I was feeling really upbeat and focused on my finally few miles.
The ‘movie’ was into the final action sequences which was handy as I was on a fast flowing downhill section. The Enterprise – taking a battering, Kirk ‘backing off’ Plummer quoting Shakespeare and Nimoy being cool ‘key please doctor time is short’.
I finished the race before I got to the Peter Pan ending of ‘second star to the right and straight on ’til morning’ but I’m fairly convinced that having a focus and a calming distraction during the latter stages of a race helps runners to finish, especially over ultra distances. So thank you to Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner and everyone else who got me through those final miles.
Importantly you don’t have to use Star Trek but it is logical to. LLAP.
*note the version of STVI:TUC we are talking about is the extended cut **i’m still hugely geeky but not so much Star Trek 🙂