Friday, February 15, 2013

Why bother? I do.

     On an early morning run recently I got to thinking about why I was out there in the dark at 5 am, and why I choose to run so far, and why I am so fascinated by ultra running.  As runners, why are we willing to give up sleep to get miles in so we don't lose time with friends, family and sanity? Why do we spend hours giving ourselves cramps, aches and pains? During that training period we give up things we want and re-arrange our schedules, and often lives, in order to get the distance under our feet and ready ourselves for a race.

     Why do we run til we puke, get cramps like death, and then go back to our workplace on Monday morning with no recognition of our previous weekend's feat and no understanding of why we bother? Maybe it's the smile that will cross our faces as we grimace and slide into our chairs thinking about our race.

     Perhaps for some people it's a way to get in shape, for others a way to see the world from a different perspective, to meet others just as crazy as we are, or even to chase a pipe dream of the sport lifestyle.
my usual training partner.

    So why am I out there at 5 to get a run in?  Maybe it's the smell of the fresh air, the sounds of my footsteps through mud, ice, dirt and leaves.  It's a challenge, an obstacle I put in front of myself.  When I cross the finish line I can look back proudly at what I've done, how far I've come.  I learned so much getting to the finish line--not only about running, but about myself, my guts and what I am made of.

    My feet may never touch a podium, but I know the thrill of crossing the finish line; the rush of months of training, hard work and tireless days culminating to a single effort.  I am not elite, but I am an athlete.  I am an athlete, and it's this that I remind myself of every day when I lace up my shoes and head out the door.  I may not win a race or feel the heft of a medal, but I know each day I can look back and smile proudly at what I've accomplished.

    The truth is, we all need goals to keep moving; we need challenges and obstacles to overcome.  We need these things to help us feel more alive, to make each day a little more satisfying.  Stepping out my door, onto the road, onto the trail and up to the start line; these are the things that leave me satisfied at the end of the day.

I am an athlete.  What other reason do we need?

Go get those miles.

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