I've officially begun ULTRA TRAINING! I received my acceptance letter (in the self-addressed stamped envelope I'd forgotten the first time) last week. Hmmm, how do I describe what it felt like to know I was now committed to this? Well, I was ecstatic! At first. Then I was a bit unsure about my ability to pull this off. Then I was ecstatic again. Then unsure. Then ecstatic. You get the point. I could compare the roller coaster of emotions to what some women experience with the news of a pregnancy. But overall, I am headed into this excited and confident. I often think about sitting down on December 31st and blogging about my year in review. What will I say? Will I reflect on running 2 successful marathons, my first ultra marathon experience and a year of perfect running with no injury? Will I include that I coached 3 runners to run their first marathons and 2 to hit amazing PRs? That is my goal and my wish. So from here on out, I will live the rest of 2011 with the goal of blogging about exactly that! Hopefully this will prompt some to think about how they will look back at this year and decide what they would like their reflections to include. There is still lot of this year left!
Yesterday my friend Molly sent me an e-mail asking me to fill in the blank. The sentence was "Run or...". I was simply to fill in the "or" part and send it back to her. Again, this is timely because this was something I was already thinking about yesterday. At a birthday party for my friend Kim's daughter (you know, Kim is the one who runs "to burn calories"), Kim and I were discussing running (I know, shocker). I was telling her that I still thought she had it in her to do another marathon. Kim has done one full marathon and a handful of halves. She says she has absolutely no desire to do another full marathon. That essentially, she crossed it off her bucket list and she is satisfied with that. You know, this is hard for me to process. How can anyone do one and not want to do another and another and another? Kim said that although she enjoys running and especially running with our group, she is more so enjoying a summer of sleeping in on days off, camping with her family and sitting around with friends at night not freaking out about needing to be in bed by a certain time because she "has to" get up and run. That she can finish a bottle of wine if she wants. That she can have 2 or 3 beers if she chooses (I see a different problem here, Kim). The point is, Kim does not enjoy being a slave to running. She enjoys running, but wants to do it on her terms, not the terms of a training schedule. I get what she is saying. So I had to think about myself in regard to this. I began to wonder if this is how people look at me. A couple of weeks ago, someone told me that they were having a conversation with someone who said "Have you ever tried to have a conversation with Kate Rewwer at 10:00 at night? She can barely keep her eyes open!" To which my immediate response was "Well by 8:00 in the morning, I have logged some miles, emptied the dishwasher, completed 2 loads of laundry, watered the flowers and showered (well, sometimes not showered yet) and you are still sleeping. So the same would hold true if I showed up at your door at 8:00 am." My point being, we are all so different! But the question remains... Am I a slave to running and training? Do I short change my family, friends and myself by the need to get up every day and run? Do I sacrifice spending time outside in the dark sitting around watching my kids catch lightening bugs, enjoying a glass of wine, talking to neighbors by the fire pit because I just need to go to bed so that I can run? I really had to think about this because I am positive this is what some people see. They say it without verbalizing it. Yes, this also all ties in to Molly's fill-in-the-blank question.
The answer is no. I am no slave to running. By nature and genetics, I am a very early morning person. In college, I was always the one that was yawning at the bar by 11:00 pm. Yeah, even if it meant we just got there. I'd get home at 2, go to bed and be up by 6 or 7 am. Not because I had to be, but because I couldn't help it. I just woke up. When I graduated from nursing school, I had no choice but to take a night shift position. This was HORRIBLE for me. I'd fall into bed (after wondering how the hell I made it home alive), sleep for a couple of hours and then be awake. I'd be dizzy, nauseous and have a headache. But hard as I tried, dark as I made my room, I could not sleep in the middle of the day. I lived like this for 6 months. I always felt sick and miserable. And I would then go for a run. I didn't enjoy it then. There was no magic in running. I was combatting the night shift pounds that were creeping up and I was "training" for the New York marathon. I was not looking at time or pace, but rather logging miles. I was trying to fall in love with something that others were addicted to and loved and obsessed over. But it wasn't happening. I just wanted to be skinny and run a marathon.
Fast forward 15 years to now. I still can't sleep in the morning. I still need to go to bed early at night. But running isn't the culprit. Again, nature and genetics (have you met Bill Corey, who often would rise at 3 am because he couldn't sleep? Have you tried to have a conversation with him at noon? He can barely keep his eyes open. And he ain't no runner). Running happens to be what fills the time of my early morning wakeful state. And by filling it with running day after day, I've discovered that I run to LIVE, rather than not run and simply exist. Running takes a tremendous amount of discipline. Even if you love it. Sometimes you don't really WANT to put on your shoes and go. But you do and each time you do and you overcome the desire to stay home, a small part of you gets a bit stronger. Do this for YEARS and a BIG part of you gets stronger (and I don't mean physically). You evolve into the person God meant for you to be. Whoever that may be. This is what has happened and continues to happen with me. So no. I'm no slave to running. I've said it before... running is the tool God is using to make me into the person I was meant to be. For others, it may be something else. For me, it's running. To stop doing it would be short changing my family, my friends and myself.
So I wrote back to Molly with my fill in. Run or simply exist. Because without it, that's exactly what I'd be doing right now.