Shirt by me (available here). Photo by Rick Gaston.
The memory of my crazy racing schedule this spring is starting to fade. The fatigue is gone, the legs rested and I am back to running. My next "A" race is not until September, so while I am doing some very hard specific work (like Wednesday tempo or hill workouts with the fast boys), I am also taking the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time on the trails, go on adventures and pace friends and family as they pursue their race goals. Sure I have a training schedule, yes I am working quite hard but something is different. Back when I was training for Houston and LA, I went to a place in my training I had never been before, pushed in a way I wasn't sure I was capable of and achieved a hard fought for goal. It was an amazing experience. But I realized one thing about myself:
I cannot exist on a day to day basis that way. I cannot be single minded about a running goal. Moreover, I will not. That is just not how I roll.
What I mean is, during that time period I spent a lot of time contemplating whether or not I wanted to really make a go at being the best marathoner I can be. I definitely made the move in the right direction and look forward to continuing to make strides and get faster. I fully plan on showing up at the trials ready to rock. But I am not all in, not right now. To be that person, that runner, I would have to give up too much. Or at least more than I am willing to.
I have come full circle on my thought process about the runner I want to be. When I decided to run my first ultra back in 2006, it was because I did not want to center my running and life around the pursuit of an (ultimately) arbitrary goal of a specific marathon time. In the grand scheme of life, it doesn't matter at all. Not even a little bit. I didn't want to make something like that my focus. So I started ultrarunning and connected to a deeper, more essential part of my running. Sure, I have goals for ultras. Yes, I like to be the best that I can be. But ultimately in ultrarunning, there is no single quantitative measure of things like there is in road marathoning.
Photo by Pedro Martinez
Ultrarunning, with the occasional road marathon splashed in there for a challenge, is ONE part of my life, it is not the only part. When I look at elite level marathoners, I see a single-mindedness that is a central theme. By necessity, their lives are centered around their running. I have entertained the thought many a time of having this kind of life but when it comes right down to it: it is not for me. That is not who I want to be.
Who I want to be is a healthy, happy, well rounded individual. I want to be a rockstar business owner that makes peoples lives better through healthy food. I want to be a good girlfriend, sister, daughter, friend, cousin, and mentor. I want to be an adventurer, a speed demon, a downhill bomber, a ninja, a unflappable pacer and CR breaker. I want to get lost in the woods and test myself with crazy track repeats. I want to laugh with friends over an amazing meals and grow, learn and be balanced. Balanced. That is who I want to be. I have always balked at defining myself or labeling myself, but this is one label I would happily take on. As I get older, I realize that self-definition for me is no longer a way to seek out who I am like it was when I was younger, it is a way to express who I am.
Balanced. Life is too short and to precious to be anything but.