Thursday, September 18, 2008

"Why Run?"

Deep Thoughts "running" through my mind...a visit to the reason I started this "blogging" thing in the first place (see title/sub-title above):

"Why Run?"

I've heard this question more times than I care to count. Unfortunately, I've never come up with a clear-cut answer to best communicate: "Why?" Sure: simple responses of "Because I can" or "To lose weight" are common responses but come on, isn't there something deeper to explain the "Why?" Not to discount someone who runs 2-3 miles a few days a week, but once someone gets to running regularly 30 or more miles a week (I picked that number out of the clear blue sky), something must be driving this. Goal setting? Sure. Lose weight? Yep. Run a marathon? Oh yea, baby! OK, so let's keep that running going through the cold northern winters where cross-winds of 20-30mph with air temps below 20F exist and the miles just keep on getting logged...perhaps with an increase. Is it really worth it? Do the "why" answers above justify this craziness? I can tell you by drivers in my hometown that they don't think much of me trudging along the snow/ice covered roads in January. Who am I to be out there?? "Why?" OK, now let's take a step on the "wild and crazy" side of running. If running multiple marathons (like 7 in 2007) becomes just not enough and the idea of ultra-running comes into play, "Why?" on earth would I (or YOU) subject yourself to the tearing of muscle tissue, dehydration, pain, time for recovery, and the higher risk of defeat that an ultra-distance event brings? "Why???" While I may not have finished my first attempt at the 100 mile distance last month, the question of "Why?" was certainly present with me out there when pondering what to do while injured. As my mind told me and the great friends who were supporting me, if I can still sustain forward movement, then I must continue. It was at the point, shortly after the 50 mile Snowville Aid Station, where the "forward movement" issue became the one and only stumbling block. The pain had become such that movement on flat/up/down terrain was incredibly painful. Mentally, there was no option to drop. The "Why?," disregarding the physical obstruction, was clear: "Because I can. I set a goal. I prepared. There is no quit." Reflecting back nearly 2 months later, I have zero regrets. I couldn't have prepared for what happened, but it did happen. The day for redemption will have to wait, but it will come. Most specifically, it will come at 5am on August 1, 2009 at Squire's Castle.

The physical body is an incredible, miraculously-created machine that is capable of amazing things. Looking at amazing athletes like Lance Armstrong or others that continue to "Wow!" the public, some folks were just wired the exact way to perform extraordinarily. For the rest of us, we can only strive to get better, improve ourselves, and explore parts of our true grit that can only be found when taken to the extreme. That's my "Why?" answer when it comes to past and future ultra-running events. It's not about an award (sorry, I wasn't wired for those!), a bib number, the medal, the pats on the's about pushing myself to areas not previously visited and explored. When I ran the Green Jewel 100K back in May 2008, it poured rain for nearly all 62.4 miles and 13hrs, 9min. I finished wanting more! I felt better and better after the 50 mile point. I must admit, though, that the relationships and people I meet along the way, also answer part of the "Why?" I get out the door before 5am most days. The volunteers that freely give of themselves, the dedication of race directors, the communites that support the events, and my fellow runners who join me, provide guidance/inspiration...they are all part of the "Why?" I run. I value all of them (you)...more than they (you) know.

I'll see you on the trails...


Sensationally Red said...

Yeah!! Loved this post!!

Nick Billock said...

Thanks, Red. Would it be considered "weird" for a blogger to read his/her own post repeatedly?!? I've done this lately...maybe just to make sure I wrote what I meant...after digesting it for a few days. In this case for sure, I meant it.

Best of luck getting your pre-race jitters worked out this week!