I have raced again, for the first time in a while, and the lucidity that only maximal exertion can get you made clear to me several things.
First, this: I am neither as strong nor as fast as I want to be. And this will always be the case.
Then, this: There is a sense in which I love running, the specific act. But more wholly and honestly, I love training. I love having a rock of purpose at the center of my life, and breaking myself over it, to be remade stronger, better, faster. Running is the fire; training is the forge in which we purposefully recast ourselves.
Training means doing things that you don't want to do. It means lung searing and muscle aching. It means waking up and feeling stiffness and soreness in places and ways young men of supposedly good health and fitness should not. It means not stopping when stopping seems like the greatest thing in the entire world, when no one would know but you. But you would know. And you do know that these are the sorts of things you have to do in order to be the kind of runner - the kind of soul crushing RACER - that you want to be.
Finally, this: My foot is healthy now, and my motivation is too. Thus it is time to resuming training in earnest. It is time to submerge myself in oxygen debt and swim in lactic acid, to run laps around the deepest circles of hell.
I cannot tell you how happy it makes me just to type this. I am giddy. Elated. Ecstatic. Anticipatory. There are words for things like this, but none sufficient. You just have to know.