This week has been on the boring side of things, which means more thinking for my buzzing head to do. School has been fun, but overall less fulfilling than my senior year(my final senior year, hopefully) would be. Tying up loose ends with classes, searching for internships, and looking for part-time work to fill the time and help me pay my bills has been keeping me occupied. Running has been going well, and Im getting ready to go back and visit a milestone in any runner's life. I skipped over the marathon and decided to just go ahead and do ultras last year. I don't regret the decision, but I suppose that 26.2 miles is something I should experience at some point in my life. Im hoping that it goes well, but I predict that a lack of specificity in my training will lead to a sub-par performance. I guess I should stop being negative, stop thinking about it, and just run the damned thing. A poor performance will not spell disaster for this ongoing hobbyjogging adventure I find myself on. As I do with every taper week, I find myself wondering what all this is for. Why do I train with such resolve, when ultimately it doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things? I think the answer is very simple, so I'll give an overly complicated and confusing response.
I often wonder if my running stems from a desire to be an athlete. As a kid, I was poorly conditioned. I had chronic athsma that hospitalized me every time snow fell and melted. My knees ached every time my lungs allowed me to run, so I was prescribed knee braces and orthotics for youth soccer. I wasn't disabled or disadvantaged; in retrospect, I just lacked the patience to overcome the obstacles, so I used them as excuses to avoid high levels of exertion. To be honest, I wasn't sitting there pining for a life of two-a-day soccer practices, weekends full of tournaments, or superior attitudes that plagued young athletes. I think my desire to engage in sports was overridden by overly structured schedules and unsolicited advice. There was always this idea that each person's body is different and we don't need to be told by people that are unfamiliar with us that we're doing it wrong. This may be why more individualized activities like motocross appealed to me. Little did I know that I'd be covering more ground on foot in 1 week than I put on my motorcycle in a month.
Where was I?
Do I run for praise? I sincerely hope that I don't. That's not to say that I don't appreciate it. I have some of the best friends I could ever ask for, and their support makes me feel like I could do anything. My only mental struggle at the moment is making sure that intrinsic factors are my true motivation for pouring my heart and soul into aimlessly putting one foot in front of the other. I guess the only way to find out is to keep doing it and figure out where the happiness comes from. I don't run to feel superior to others, but rather to feel superior to my former self. It feels great to know that I can move under my own power for hours on end.
To test myself, Im going to attempt to include more long solo runs this winter. I feel as though running alone for long periods of time will help me grow mentally and appreciate the time I have with others when I do get to see them. My longest solo run to date is about 5 hours, and I'm hoping to increase that in this upcoming off season. This doesn't mean that I don't value long runs with friends. Running seemingly endless trails for hours in a pack makes me feel like I'm tapping into sometihng that has been lost to many for a long time. Its amazing to know that a great distance is being covered on foot for the sake of getting from one point to another, even if our society no longer necessitates it.
This post makes no sense, nor does it even stick to one idea. My apologies.
So, back to this weekend. This course does have some advantages to offer. I'll be running one of the flattest marathon courses around, selected by Runners World as one of the best courses for running a Boston qualifying time or a personal best. I'll also be running with a great group. Many people from our school's running club will be doing their first marathon on the course, and will my friends and training partners Shelly and Ryan will be shooting for PRs. My friend Joey will surely be looking for a top spot in the half. Alex, my friend and nearly full-time training partner, is preparing to run this race as his "A" race(if you can nail down any sense of priority in our lacadaisical running schedule) for the year. He's going to run extremely well and I'm excited to see how he does. Another one of my everyday training partners, Abbey, will be running the course as her first marathon. She will undoubtedly suprise herself and crush her goal time. She trains with us guys every day, running at or below her "goal pace" every day, unlike myself. Which leads me to me. I don't touch race pace but a few times a week if I start falling down a hill. I have no idea what's in store for this race, but at the very least I'll get to enjoy the success of my friends as they chase down a distance that's important to them. If I can pull it together, I'll have a good day too. It will at least be nice to see people once in a while, as my last race was run almost alone.