I write because I enjoy it, maybe even love it. This is very weird because I hated English class all through school. Poetry, essays, literature, yep - I hated it all. Until I started running - then it all made more sense. Guess I should've ran cross country in high school instead of playing football. Nah!
It's not a healthy outlet for me, but for many I'm sure it is.
Either way, I'm not here to hate and good for anyone who gets up and moves forward for any distance. I'm way to analytical and it gets the best of me from time to time.
Speaking of moving, I came to another realization last weekend during the Landsford Canal 50K. I'm an explorer, not a racer. I emphasize the word explorer in more ways than one. I love exploring myself on a personal level, through other people around me, and of course the beautiful area that I'm fortunate enough to be traveling through.
I don't remember much of anything about racing through a course as fast as I could go, but I remember nearly all of the friends, sunrises, sunsets, waterfalls, landmarks, and animals that I've taken time to enjoy. Losing ten minutes of race time to make a lifelong and often life changing memory is worth much, much more to me.
Nearly every time I race against a clock or other runners I become bitter about either my performance or some other facet of the event. The only real competitive emotions I have at my disposal are from 10 years of football and those don't carry over very well for me into ultra running. However, I would probably win a lot of races if I started throwing open field blocks like I did in college football!
The question of why any person runs ultra marathons is normally abstract and confusing. I'm no different, but it often boils down to inspiration. Mainly receiving it from others, but also giving it when I can. It has driven me through Nor Easters and freezing rainy nights to finish lines filled with tears and gladness.
And then there is "The Fight".
There comes a place in just about every ultra where my body begins to fight my mind and vice versa. For example, my feet may be in horrible pain from running over four miles of rocks at mile 38 in a 100 mile race, but my mind is fairly content to go on. It knows the pain will probably just pass. On the other hand, at mile 68 my mind knows that I have 32 more miles to go and it just wants my body to quit. It says, "What's the use in running farther? Look how far you've already went."
I believe the soul steps in here and helps to impose my will over both of them. Sometimes in the final miles both the body & mind rebel and that is where "The Fight" really begins. I've learned so much about myself at this point and it's one of the reasons I continue to love running ultras. There is beauty in suffering and "The Fight" is no different.
So on the week before running my 5th Laurel Valley Ultra race and 59th ultra marathon I'm excited about my remaining fall races with the explorer's spirit. This will be my 14th trip through the 33 mile Laurel Valley course and I look forward to the stories & memories that come from it too.