The Story of (the Other) Bruce and the Spider

I would have been about seven or eight when I first heard the story of Robert the Bruce and the spider. I remember I was at Whitehall Primary School at the time and that I was very upset and frustrated about something, but the name of the teacher who told it to me and the reason for her telling it have long since passed from memory. I vividly recall, however, sitting next to her in a cloakroom full of coats and boots while she told me “a story about another Bruce.”

The story went something like this:

It has stayed with me throughout my life. Only now, as I continue to struggle through this running slump, I see it a little differently.

It’s not simply a story with a trite, moralistic ending about picking yourself up after failure. It’s not simply a story about perseverance.

It’s a story about showing up. It’s a story about doing. Doing when no one is watching and when no one really cares whether you do or whether you don’t. About doing something–anything–rather than nothing.

I don’t mean to sound pessimistic. On the contrary, since my last blog, things have actually started to turn around. Though by “turn around,” I don’t mean I am getting any faster. Or stronger. Or lighter. No, by “turn around,” I mean that, after almost three months, those runs where I have exerted far too much effort for little or no return have finally ended.

That’s it. Nothing earth-shattering. No big breakthroughs. No grand epiphanies. No 8 min./miles. Not even an inkling as to whether I will hit my BQ time now or at any time in the future. Just a day-to-day attempt to maintain and not take any steps backwards.

Less than two weeks to go to the Syracuse Half Marathon. Less than five weeks to the New Jersey Marathon, and I’ve made it as far as “It doesn’t suck.”

So this is not a story about building the perfect spider web. God forbid, it’s not about finding the strength and courage to crush your enemies (especially if they happen to be English!). It’s not even a story about overcoming adversity to cross a finish line and drape a medal around your neck.

It’s just a story about heading out the door on a cold, rainy March evening and persuading your body to go hard for ten miles when there is no one holding a gun to your head and when you have no idea when, or even if, the hard work you’re doing is going to pay off.

POSTSCRIPT: Just before posting this, I completed a ten-mile tempo run in 1:23:06. That’s an 8:16 pace, fast enough for me to qualify for Boston. It didn’t suck. Go figure.

About Bruce Pegg

I write about running, music and spirituality.
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3 Responses to The Story of (the Other) Bruce and the Spider

  1. Danny Holmes says:

    I said “Hey”… (hey)….”You”… (you)
    Get off a my Beach!
    Certainly brother Bruce you remember that ol’ Stones tune!
    I had let go of live performance and making a living with music for 15 years after a number of “close” no cigar moments. I , however, did not stop writing. 😎
    I have recently began performing again and do not claim any past success, beginning again at a face value arena. How refreshing to just DO IT! Use your gifts, for yourself, for others and remember, the T-REX ‘S arms are too short to pat himself on his back! One is “in on it” and “part of it”, like nature.
    I am so in agreement my ol’ friend, whom shared with me at Little Bit O’ Magic”. Hit me in private a
    Peace brother,


    • Bruce Pegg says:

      Danny! What a great surprise to hear from you, my old comrade in arms! If anyone knows about just “doing it” and surviving the fickle fortunes of fate, it’s you my friend. I’m so glad to hear you’re up-and-at-’em again. You always had more talent in your little pinkie than most people have in their whole bodies, and I am beyond thrilled you are once again sharing it with the rest of us. I can’t wait to see/hear where you’re going to take it, and if there’s ever a time and place where you would be willing and/or able to share a little of that “magic” with me again, I would be honored. Keep on keepin’ on, brother!


  2. Pingback: Boilermaker 2016, or The End of the Streak | Bruce Pegg

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