I thought the exact same thing when I crossed the finish line after my first marathon (Houston 2007), and at the finish of my first ultra/trail race (Chuckanut 2012): “Whoa, I’m dizzy” and, more importantly, “I want to do that again!”
(Long way to go at the Chuckanut 2012. Credit: Glenn Tachiyama, http://www.pbase.com/gtach)
Sometimes our mind tries to suppress the painful memories of racing hard on low blood sugar, dehydrated and depleted. It warns the body to stop trying such feats of endurance, such torture. This is usually the case after I run a “disastrous” marathon (NYC 2008, Boston 2010, Olympic Trials 2012, etc). At other times though, it is our body that rebels against the mind’s stubborn will - the will that forces us to always push the envelope, train with reckless abandon, and to sign up for that next race.
Well, as eager as I was to start training hard for my next ultra after Chuckanut, I had to take a forced break due to my knee injury. I ended up taking almost 3 weeks totally off (something I hadn’t done for about 5 years since I got mono in college). The break was hard mentally, but I knew I couldn’t start up running with a limp. Here is a picture of my leg 4 weeks later after my fall:
As you can see I’m still only about 95% healed, but I am planning on running about 90 miles this week. Scar tissue will continue to form, and I will be marked for life. Cool!
More importantly, I’ve signed up for some future races:
5/20: Portland Rock n’ Roll half marathon (not sure how my speed will be)
6/16: Mt. Washington Road Race (all uphill, it’s going to be a blast!)
7/28: White River 50 (my first 50-miler = will be interesting)
9/29: UROC 100k (Ultra Race of Champions, it should be a loaded field).
The idea here is to slowly build back my fitness, focusing on speed first before adding specific endurance. Of course with uphill sessions and regular 20+ mile long runs in the works I am always trying to add strength. I’m going to race more than what is listed above and I’ll be looking to add events as I go along during the rest of the year.
In closing, I’m going to re-post an excerpt of something I wrote for the LetsRun.com message boards a month before the Olympic Marathon trials this year. I think it helps define why I am still running competitively and chasing after these crazy dreams:
“The plight of the 2:14 to 2:18 US Marathoner: Why do you do it? You don’t do it for the money. You don’t do it for the fame or glory. You don’t even do it because you think you can make the Olympic team or beat the Kenyans/Ethiopians. So why? Why do you keep sacrificing your time and energy towards something that most of society would consider a selfish and frivolous endeavor? Why do you go to bed early on Friday and Saturday nights in the prime of your mid-twenties? Why do you run 120 miles a week in the cold wind, rain and snow? Why?
Because you can. Because through years of racing and hard training in high school and college you discovered that you had a knack for something. You achieved high enough in one aspect of your life enough to be considered as belonging to the top 1%. You decided to set the impossible goal of seeing how close you could get to your full potential in something quantifiable. And in the process you realized that you are a part of something bigger than yourself…you are a part of the depth of American distance running,
It isn’t the path that the “practical” person would take. It is a road full of risk and a high rate of failure. But in the end it doesn’t matter if you meet your ultimate performance goals because at least you tried. You took the bull by the horns and sought out on a journey that most wouldn’t dare to embark on. You believed strongly in something and decided to act upon that belief.”
So yeah, there it is in a nutshell: my answer to the question “Why do you run?” Over the course of the next couple months I plan to post here more often about my training and add content. Thanks for reading and stay tuned!