Friday, November 4, 2011

Stopping to smell the roses

I realized it's been a while since I posted something about my actual running. Where it is, where it's going, and where it's been. I suppose I've intentionally and unintentionally taken a few giant steps back from the running game.

Intentional: I run only when I feel like it, and am not on any particular "training" schedule. This means I never feel that a run is forced, though often I find myself starting most runs slow, and finishing fast. Just because it is nice outside doesn't necessarily mean I have to run to enjoy it. Plenty of days I have simply grabbed my camera and gone walking for a few hours. I find I can enjoy the fine details of my surroundings in a way I don't when I am running. Somedays I run fast, some are slow. Some runs are long, some are very short.

Unintentional: In a fairly bizarre accident, I cut my big toe open getting out of a hot tub. I proceeded to take 9 days off from running, in which I feared I would gain 50 lbs and be a fat joke once running resumed. To put all fears aside, I tested out the legs yesterday and was profoundly happy that I had not lost any speed with my blubbery body. In fact, the 9 days off made me quite restless in my desire to resume running, but also forced me into taking time to simply walk and smell the roses. It's funny how in life when something is no longer an option it often becomes the object of greatest appeal. We all want what we don't have, and we sometimes desire even more what we can't have. I could not have running, thus, I wanted it back bad.

Alas, I am feeling great about not "racing" this entire fall and winter. September through November have tradionally been high training and racing months, typically resulting in 3-4 ultras, long training weeks, and maybe a casual marathon. However, this year is different. I don't miss racing. I'm not keeping track of what races my friends are doing, and I'm not OCD in my need to quench my cravings for all things ultra related. Now is purely a time of rest, self reflection, and time well spent with the 99.99% of my social aquaintances who don't run. The "normality" of these moments, I believe, will give me a greater long run appreciation of what ultra runners do with their bodies. We can sometimes lose a sense of our incredible human accomplishments by being around fellow ultramarathoners too much. Imagine if every friend you had was a Harvard graduate. It might make you feel inadequate of something that others outside the social circle would highly regard.

Ironically, I just signed up for my first ultra of the fall. It's called the Crooked Road 24 Hour. The event is a consumer friendly $40, and I am simply going out there to have fun and run a little. Some folks have already asked if I am going to try and run hard, but in all honesty I am not. Plus, I hardly think 25 miles per week is anywhere close to enough running to be competitive at any distance, no less a 24 hour run. But, as stated before, I'm just going to have fun. As long as fun remains a word I can associate with running, I'll take it.

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