What a difference a year makes. Last year when I was prepping for Boston, I was taking every workout so seriously and everything was so planned. This year, well, I'm just a bit more focused on the long-term. There is no doubt that I want to do well in Boston. It's Boston. I still have incredible respect for the marathon distance and couple it with the world's most famous race....
But I'm not so nailed down to specific workouts. Structured speed work is completely absent. I just run everything without looking at my Garmin and see what happens at the end. My long run build up has been 3 marathons and a 50K since January with a few 14-21 milers thrown in for good measure. Recovery runs and base-building miles are really just time that I get to spend with Flying Tomato and Netflix/YouTube (more on that later).
Sure I want to PR. Sure I want to have another race of my life in Boston. Sure I want everything to be perfect.
But geez, I cannot expect the rainbows and unicorns and puppies to last forever. I am a real person. I do have days that I poop under a bridge on a horrible training run. I do have days that I stop my Garmin 400 times to fake tie my shoelace when I really just need a rest break. I do have days that I am like, what in the f--- am I doing out here. I do have days that I fall flat on my face despite nothing being in my path.
^----All this has happened in the past 2 weeks.
I do have days that the sun is shining in the bluest sky I've ever seen and I'm romping through the woods like when I was a kid. I do have days that I run 10 miles with a friend and remind myself how lucky I am to be healthy enough to just go run 10 miles with a friend. I do have days that begin as an easy treadmill run and end with me bursting at the seams with inspiration.
^-----All this has also happened in the past 2 weeks.
I don't really know what the point of this post is yet. Maybe a metaphor for running? I do like having goals. It gives my running purpose. It makes me happy to go faster or longer. But I also am not afraid to enjoy the moment. Maybe I'm strange that I catch myself smiling mid-run because everything is clicking. Because much like the pain of something really, really hard, the joy of something really, really great never seems to last.
I've always been obsessed with stories of endurance. Humans that have the capacity to survive tough situations fascinate me. What is it that allows them to triumph in the end? What is it that gives the mental and physical strength? Many runners can attest to the notion that mental strength is far more prized the longer the distance. The fact that "normalish" people can put their bodies through incredible physical obstacles is fascinating.
So while I'm cooking up ideas on how to make the most of a 12-hour race in July and 24-hour race in September, I am reading/watching feats that seem superhuman to me.
Netflix: The Barkley Marathons, Desert Runners, 4 Minute Mile
YouTube: Western Time (Billy Yang), Tarawera Ultra Marathon (Dreamteam Television), Paula Radcliffe (Sports Life Stories), The North Face: Curiousity
Reading: Running on Empty (Marshall Ulrich)**, Running for My Life (Lopez Lomong), Again to Carthage (John L. Parker), Run Gently Out There (John Morelock)
**I actually hated this book save for the feat of running across the United States. Make your own judgements, but I think Ulrich is a selfish a-hole.
These movies and stories leave me feeling like I have so much more to conquer. Which is fun to dream about. Because dreams can eventually lead to reality. I'm slowly realizing how to make seemingly impossible things become possible. The scariest part is being okay with failure. Once that is on the table, it suddenly becomes okay to try.