Sunday, February 13, 2011

Why do you run?

I get asked this question a lot. In fact, I even ask myself this question a lot...on Friday nights when I have to stay in b/c of early Saturday morning group long runs, on Saturday nights when I have to stay in b/c of early Sunday morning wake-ups on Race Days, on days I have to pass on eating my favorite ethnic foods in fear that I will regret it the next day, on Race Day when I have to get up at an ungodly hour, every minute up until the race starts and I'm freezing cold, and of course, while I'm actually running. I guess I question my running motives a lot..

Apart from the obvious answer that I love to put the race bling on my dog, Luci, while she looks at me with anguish...I thought long and hard about this question while I was running in the San Dieguito Half Marathon this morning.

And I think I've finally come up with my answer(s).

Reason one: I run to cross the finish line. I think it's just that simple. Running has taught me that giving up is easy (too easy if you ask me), but that finishing, as hard as it may be on some days, gives you a sense of accomplishment (even on the bad runs).

Reason two: I think I love running so much, despite my turtle-esque pace, because during my runs is when I get the best mental clarity and often come up with my best ideas, thoughts and inspiration. Running is the one time in my day where I can kick back and think about anything I very well please...And since I do not run with headphones/music (unless I'm on a treadmill), I soak in the sounds, smells, sights around me while running...and these all trigger other ideas, thoughts and inspirations as well. I've smelled horse maneure (gross, like today), seen dolphins jumping out of the water, and met some pretty cool dogs all while running.

Reason three: Running has taught me that we all need to roll with the punches in life. I can wake up and do everything right in preparation for a long run or a race, and just outright have a shitty run or race where nothing falls into breathing is all wrong, my posture is crap, my legs feel like lead...blah blah blah. But then the next time I run, everything magically falls into place and I finish the run/race feeling like gold. It happens to all of us. Running has taught me not to cross off a day because something doesn't go my way or the way I had planned...tomorrow is another day and I need to live in the moment instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Running has also taught me to not worry about how many miles are left in a race or a run, but instead focus on the mile that I'm ON.

I don't know if I make sense really...I'm not a very good writer.

In any event, I had a good race day today. It was my first half marathon of the year (haven't raced since October) so I was hesitant at first and let my nerves get the best of me. I think I sometimes underestimate my true abilities in fear of poor performance. It's something I'm working on. The course was a lot hillier than I remember it being (I ran it for the first time last year)...I should have known better too since everyone I talked to about the race beforehand commented on how hilly it was...and I was like, really?

Memorable moments included the British lady that dresses up like the Queen on Miles 1 and 12. I saw here there last year too...must be a tradition. They were also serving sangria on Miles 2 and 11 (unfortunately? fortunately? I passed...though I wish it were available AFTER the race)

Felt that my breathing was great the entire race, and I never felt unbearable fatigue at any point in the race (does this mean I'm not pushing myself hard enough?), and surprisingly, I only walked for 5 seconds the entire race (up a steep-ish hill), not even during the aid stations! I also didn't take any gu during the race, as I didn't have any. (The line at Road Runners was waaaaaaaay to long yesterday and since I had Luci in the car, I didn't want to stand in it. This was the first race I didn't take any Gu, and it worked out fine. Maybe my body has finally adapted to tapping into my fat reserves like it's supposed to.)

Finished in a happy (unofficial) 1:57:27 (according to the trusty Garmin)...a vast improvement from my 2:12 performance from last year. Now I need to refuel my stomach. :)


  1. Very well said! I think the main thing for me is the mental clarity issue. I'm taking a year off from marathoning next year, but I know how much I am going to miss all of those summer training runs. Have you thought of running Chicago? Congrats on your race!

  2. Yes! I was thinking about doing it this year! Where would be the best hotel to stay at? I was originally going to do the PDX Half...but the registration fee is $230 for the half!!! can you believe that?