Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Why run?

Because of stuff like this:
Footfeathers: Hardrock 100: The Race Report
Truly freaking epic.  Not sure I've got the fortitude to complete that journey.  I certainly don't have the physical prowess - today - but that can be had with the right investment.  It's the mental toughness I'm not sure I've got.

That's most of the reason I'm attracted to ultrarunning in the first place.  Trying to find that breaking point.  Once I've committed money to a race I usually can train with a singular focus and by the time I get to the start line, it's not finishing that's in question, it's how quickly will I finish.

Run Rabbit Run was the first race where I lined up and didn't know if I would be able to finish.  I was fairly certain, and I trusted my training, but at the start I really had no idea what to expect.  There were times I felt like crap during that effort, but at no point did I consider stopping.  I've said this before, but as I crossed the finish line, I thought to myself:  I can keep going.

My most miserable experience in a race was the 2009 Boulder Marathon.  The race organizers were woefully under-prepared for the conditions on race day and there were multiple aid stations without water and/or Gatorade I considered quitting that race on several occasions, but somehow gutted it out to the finish.  I was pissed and swore I'd never run another race organized by those folks, but the next spring I ran in their half-mary.  Even though it wasn't a pleasant experience, I'm wearing the hat right now - that was my first marathon.

Anyway, racing and running for me aren't about Personal Records.  Many of mine were set when I was young and fit.  I'm never again going to crack 5 minutes in the mile, but I did it once in the opening leg of a 2 mile race when I was in high school.  I ran 3 minutes 30 seconds for a 1200 meter leg in a "distance medley" relay race that same year.  My PR in 5k is just under 17 minutes, I could probably get that if I wanted to suffer through the hideous 400 meter interval training, and I could probably pretty easily best my 10k PR of 41 minutes, but I really don't care about those numbers.

The point is:  I know that I can finish those distances.  I know the training needed to get better in those distances and I don't care to do it.  Intervals suck.  I like LSD.

Frankly, much of the reason I run is also similar to what Goeff noted in the video I posted a couple weeks ago:  I find it a tremendous way to get to know an area.  Once I run out of new terrain to run on, I start relying on the iPod more and more to make my runs more interesting.  That's when running becomes work.

I remember once when I was a kid hiking with my brother the dogs and my parents in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  I think it was Mount Chocorua. There was some long haired hippy dude ripping up and then back down the trail we were on.  He was like 5 or 10 minutes out in front of some much more dapper followers.  Those folks were having a good time.  My brother and I thought it looked pretty cool.  That was when I went for my first trail run - 27-28 years ago probably - the dogs, my brother with me, freaking perfect.

Ever since, I've been searching for that feeling again.  The closest I've come are in the trail races in Colorado:  Fruita, Imogene, Steamboat.  In those races, it's not so much how fast you finish, it's more the process.  There's a camaraderie that's really develops in the shared experience of suffering, that I've never really experienced elsewhere.

Anyway, that's kind of where I'm at.  It's weird here in Bolivia, because I've hardly even seen any one else out running.  There are cyclists, but out where I live I get looks when I'm doing my workouts.  It'd be nice to have somebody else to run with upon occasion, but I guess I'll live vicariously through the blogs of others.

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