May 25, 2013

Running Goals for the Year

100 miles is a spectacularly stupid distance to cover on foot, which is precisely the appeal. It's ludicrous to the point of disbelief; most people I talk to literally don't believe me that such races exist. But the races do exist. I know, because I've seen them. And people finish them. I know, because I've volunteered to help them, even pacing one guy for about 30 miles last year.

Of course, none of this means that these race should exist, or that people should do them. Running is a healthy habit, promoting all sorts of beneficial things. But like all good things, the benefits taper to a point; and that point can hurt you. Even a hard marathon can leave your body in catabolic hell for a few days after completion; imagine what quadrupling that would do? And that is to say nothing of the agony one must surely endure in the race itself.

Of course, that's also the point. Not masochism, per se. The goal is not to hurt for its own sake; the goal is to finish and succeed despite that hurt. The goal is to finish, to hell with everything else.

I say all of this like I know, but the truth is, I'm only guessing. I've raced as far as 50 miles, but never beyond that. And that beyond, I'm told, is pretty fucking gnarly. But here's the thing: Truth be told, I don't really want to race that far - certainly not now, perhaps not ever. There is a sense in which I feel like I have to, like running 100 miles is some sort of necessary validation of trail runner credentials.

But, well, no. Fuck that.

The truth is that I have a long, long way to go before I'd feel comfortable racing a 100 miler. And until I do feel that strong, fit, and experienced, I'm staying away. Progress matters to me more right now than checking anything off the proverbial bucket list.

This is not to say that I'm hiding from races this year. Quite the contrary, I'll be challenge myself plenty, across a wide spectrum of distances and disciplines. And I'll probably run at least a marathon or two, lest you think I'm totally backing off the distance stuff. Maybe, one will even be on the road, so I can try to post a respectable time (sub-3 would be lovely), and give myself an answer when people ask me how fast I run a marathon (it happens pretty frequently, and trail times invariably suck).

But the race goals are somewhat arbitrary. All I really want is to leave this year feeling more fit than I entered it. Of course, some fast times and good placing at races would help in that endeavor. Anyway, we'll see. That's an awful lot of words about a race I'm not doing.

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