I am a girl who loves mountains, changing seasons, running, true backpacking, strong coffee, and knitting with high quality yarn.
When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.
The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott
Thursday, February 07, 2008
To begin with, 5 years ago I was one of those who was dragged into ultrarunning, literally. I did express interest, and before I even say "boo" after my first marathon (for which I trained for a year religiously, by the way), I was signed up for a 50k and presented a gift of Ultrarunning magazine by a friend (both items, may I add). And I was welcomed. I felt welcomed, at least. And I felt I found a group of whacko’s that I can belong to. I mean, I didn't know I am this particular whacko yet, but I knew somehow I didn't belong to regular folks out there and struggled with it, so here I am, in a group of whacko’s, and they accepted me! OK, OK, yes, I liked going slow and steady, I felt no pain, and blah, blah, but the important part was the community! And the realization of the fact that I can do something insane - as in “jumps off the couch and run a 50k" sort of insane, what truly moved me into category of DK-er's to tell people "You Can Do It!" (a slogan stolen from Marathon Maniacs). It was this weird doubling inside of my brain: I was this exceptional gal who ran something long and almost dangerous, yet I was your next door neighbor with no talent and little time to train and still could task it (and sometimes not too bad, but that's in the past). So I jumped on the wagon of inviting every one and their brother to join in the forces. Why not? If I find it so exhilarating, I'd like for you to feel the adrenalin rush too, to feel a sense of accomplishment and achievement, to set a goal and go after it, to see a dream come true (I think this one is stolen from Dreamchasers and Lisa S-B, but I am not sure). Yet yes, I have my own grudges. After all, I never claimed I am perfect (oh, I am so far from it...Stephen and I watched that new reality show last night about polygraph test and answering true or false for personal questions, and I am like: why lie? everybody already knows all the crap about me, and if you have more questions - go ahead, shoot, I might be ashamed of some deeds, but I'll get over it, I hold no secrets). So, back to grudges - races are filling fast and I need to plan like almost a year ahead of time, lotteries are getting insanely hard to get in (harder than to run a 100), and hey, I don't feel special anymore! I am not one of a thousand in this world, I am now one of a hundred thousand! I can't say anymore - I ran (did) a 100 miler, it's like - OK, and that guy and another one, and his 80 years old father did it too. Time brought to ultras not only lots of people finishing the races for their own pride, it brought fast runners from marathons and cross-country teams, young runners, old runners, all mixed up...where does it leave me? Smack in the middle. How do I feel about it? And here is the million dollar question: why am I doing it?
I don't know. It's not so much a personal satisfaction or self-esteem anymore. Not a dash after a better time. I can't even say it's a mindless addiction. I love to travel and I love to meet people, and I love been in a nature setting. I could probably hike, what I did before, but running it somewhat faster (you know, to a certain extent) and there are more like-minded people involved. The finish clock gives an adrenaline rush, no question about this one. I get to hang out with friends, especially after we're all done and running "high" (who needs drugs? well, if we calculate the cost of entry fees and flights/gas/motels, drugs might be cheaper:) nah, I am too scared to abuse it, who knows what happens to my no-so-well maintained brain as it is?). Probably, because I get to spice up my ever-boring life. Admit, lives in 21st century (or the end of 20th century) is pretty darn boring, even if you are totally in love with your significant other and your job. Every day looks the same as the day before. You wake up, run (or not), go to work, come home, take care of the kids, eat and sleep. There are other activities fit in, but nothing like our ancestors where the food is running away from you and an enemy is running after you, and there might not be tomorrow, and who knows when the war starts, or whomever comes to power - what changes will he bring? We entertain ourselves with politics trying to make ourselves believe we are making a difference, but do Democrats and Republicans really differ much? Oops, sorry, no politics here. Look deep inside and tell me you never thought you're indulging in a challenge just for the heck of thrill. Along with a gazillion other reasons (as I said before, this is a country for combo meals, so every question has a good slew of answers strung together!) But then again, nothing is ever simple (so complex answers are normal...) or is it? Are we overthinking it? Was Nike commercial onto something with "Just do it"? Why think? May be that's why I like to go long on trails, I kind of stop thinking and get primal? Foot, foot, step, step, water, gulp, tree, avoid, walk, run, look, listen...
Actually, I was trying to write about a jump in ultrarunning attendance, not about why, but I guess they all inseparable. So, who did what to the community and the sport - DK or each of us? Don't ya all jump up and down when meet some curious mind and tell them how awesome this stuff is? Inviting your family, co-workers and next door neighbor is they only show a tidbit of an interest? Of course, Dean "talked" to a million of people at once, when how many did I meet on my way? But still, may be we all jump into it because we're just waiting for that guy to say "hey, why don't you join us!" while all ready for any opportunity to get your life on a new spiral? And would you ever (or want anybody ever) who is already running ultras, to be all hash-hash and "no, you can't come in"? May be I am not that exceptional anymore, but may be I allowed more people to feel so...or more people to feel normal? So if you ever see me with no smile - please kick me hard, because then I don't know why I am standing there...
Oh, and coming back to the beginning of the post (by now I have no idea what my post is about) - what makes a blog readable? What attracts others to come and check up on what you think (that is if any of that thinking is even mentioned) or what you ran yesterday (a dreadful way to ask: who cares how many miles I put on last week)? Why not only do we (some of us anyway) write (we can say - it's my diary, a way to connect to others - and emails are what? - to exchange cheering for each other...), but we also trace who reads (besides those very friends who we'd like to think they care). It is loneliness, pride, social side of human being, all of the above? And why in the world do I want to know? “Study without reflection is a waste of time; reflection without study is dangerous” Confucius (stolen from Rob's recent post). Dude is onto something (Confucius, although Rob has good thought process too). I am overanalyzing. But at least I am not telling you story about my mediocre runs:)