Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Joy of Running *

* Full disclosure. It's a long one.

"Life (& running) is not all about time but about our experiences along the way."
~ Jen Rhines

On Monday I had an epiphany.... a re-awakening of sorts.  Let's rewind a bit first.  About six years ago I ran my first marathon.  I had been living in MA for several years and the Boston Marathon had always been on my bucket list.  I'd just given birth to my second daughter and I was fired up to get back into running.  I really wanted to qualify, so I gave it a shot with the Baystate Marathon in Lowell (fast and flat, baby!).  I squeaked into Boston by a hair.  Literally.  30 seconds slower and I wouldn't have made it.  Talk about lucky.  My plan was to go ahead and run Boston the following spring since I already had the mileage under my belt.  Unfortunately, that didn't work out due to a stress fracture, so I had to defer my entry and take a few months off to heal.  As soon as I could, I started to run again.  My mileage base was zero, so it was a slow start.  But, I was determined to run Boston come hell or high water, so I didn't care.  As I began training again, I started to run some shorter local races to mix things up.  With each race, I saw my hard work come to fruition with some solid race times (for me).  And the harder I worked, the more my times came down.  That spring, I successfully completed the Boston marathon.  Once I crossed that line, I was hooked.  I had tasted the Kool-Aid and it was really good.

More, more, MORE!
After the marathon, I decided to shift gears, ramp up my training and see what I was capable of.  I started working with a coach and dedicated most of my free time to running.   I had two goals - I wanted to run a sub-20 minute 5K and I wanted to bring my marathon time down.  After several months and several races, I accomplished my first goal and broke through the 20 minute barrier.  I instantly reset my goal to sub-19.  The next year, I checked off my second goal, bringing my marathon time down by 7 minutes.  Yippeee!!  It was all very exciting, rewarding, thrilling, etc.   But at the same time, it was never quite enough.  I had crazy-eye and my eye was always on the prize, but the prize was ever-changing and always just out of reach.
In this case, I am the cat and the fish is the PR;
always moving and slightly unattainable.
This past March I ran my sixth and fastest marathon to date in Albany, GA.  I knocked almost 25 minutes off of my first marathon time.  I came in 4th overall and first in my age group.  When I crossed the line, I was very happy.  I hugged the pacer and walked around feeling like a super star....for about 5 minutes.  Maybe 10.  And then, my wheels started spinning.  What next?  When?  Where?  Come on, come on, let's go.

So...close.  Just can'
Fast forward to today.  Yes, I am still training.  Yes, I am still working with a coach.  But, over the past few months, my priorities have shifted.  I love running.  I love the way it makes me feel.  But, as I got more into the racing side of it over the years, I now realize I was often running for the wrong reason.  More often than not, the pure joy of running was lost on me.  Since March, I have run 5 short, local races.  My times - for all of them - have been the slowest they've been in years.  No joke.  And yet, they have been some of the most rewarding races I've run to date for reasons totally unrelated to my performance.  (See Samantha's Harvest, Murdick's Run the Chop & Race for Jabberwocky).  In all of these cases, I never walked away feeling defeated.  Something inside of me had shifted and my perspective had changed.

On Monday, I got up early to run 14 miles.  Rather than rush off as I usually do, I sat and enjoyed a cup of coffee with my mom for a while before I headed out.  It was lovely.  I grabbed my music and left my watch behind.  The weather was perfect.  After about 30 minutes, I ran into my friend, Johanna; also a runner.  She was with her boys who were biking along side her.  She asked me how much I had left and I told her I wasn't sure but it would be a while.  She said, "Boys, Mrs. Trachsel is running 14 miles today.  Can you believe that?"  Her son, Jack, who is 7, said, "Can I run 14 miles, mom?"  We laughed.  "Yes, but when you're older" I said.  I gave him a high-five and continued on.  I cruised along, smiling at nothing in particular, soaking in the moment, feeling each step; reveling in the simple joy of running.  It was one of the best runs I've had in years.  This, I reminded myself, this is why I run.  

Listen to this:
Let Go - RAC (ft. Kele & MNDR)  

1 comment:

  1. I think us runners are in a contstant state of evaluation and evolution. It is the process in which we grow and is how we work towards our highest potential.