We're getting there. Slowly, I say, but I know better. At least, I know that "slowly" is a relative term, and it could certainly be slower. Could certainly have been a bone sticking out of my leg, blood everywhere, surgery to follow, with months to get back. It ain't that. So, I try not to bitch. At least, out loud. Internally? Internally I'm bitching quite a bit. Everytime I see someone out cruising, some gruesome part of myself wants to trade places. Not that I want them to be hurt, really. But I maybe want them to be hurt more than I want myself to be hurt, y'know?
That's bad, maybe. But it is what it is, he says uselessly.
Still: I haven't fallen out of shape. My "cardio" is fine. Elliptical-ing, cycling, rowing, weights. All together, it's kept my fitness from bottoming out. Weight is stable too; but given my total lack of appetite (I really can't say that I've been "hungry" in a couple of years at least, which I know, that's very strange), that's easy enough to maintain.
Pretty damn bored with all of that though. I anticipated as much. But I was wrong about the primary motivation, I think. My expectations were that I'd miss the specifically race-oriented training, or at least, the mental race-imagining that takes place during every "flow-y" training run, where the pace just embraces you and carries you along.
But, eh, I haven't really given much thought to that. I've missed a few races, for sure, that I'd have liked to do. Will probably miss or skip a few more, depending on how quickly I'm able to feel confident in my race readiness. It's that flow, though, that I'm finding myself missing most of all, and I didn't expect that. At least, I didn't want to expect it.
About that: I'd always been described, by people I run with, as the high volume, mostly trail guy. And some part of me resented that. I wanted to think of myself as something other than the Kerouac reading, swarthy looking, minimalist in shoes and life, scrawny hobbyjogger, who just, y'know, wants to get out and cruise for a couple hours a day, ride the dirt, let the rocks lead where they may. That's something of a stereotype in the running community these days, and the legions of diet Krupickas testifies to its accuracy.
So, basically, I didn't want to be "that guy", exactly, probably in the same sort of way nobody really wants to embody the caricature that best fits them. I wanted to be - or at least present as - a real, semi-serious competitive runner - at least, by this area's pretty lax performance standards.
But a few weeks away from a thing gives perspective on it, and I'm far enough clear to see that everyone was basically right. Which, yeah, pretty obvious. Running 70-100 mile weeks (guessing here, but I basically tried to hit an average of 2 hours a day, every week), nearly all of it north of 8 minute miles, and never touching 5k pace except in 5k races? Eschewing anything like "training" for, eh, I'll just pop another easy 15?
And I do really like Kerouac... so, fuck.
This isn't exactly an epiphany, and certainly shouldn't be. In a way, it's felt like one, however. There was a decent part of me that suspected I'd gravitated towards running simply because it turned out to be the only athletic endeavor I'd ever been remotely good at. Sometimes I won races. That, I can't lie, always felt pretty damn cool.
But a lot of being good at running kind of far is being seduced by the training it takes to do so. And it's that training I'm craving most of all. Just trotting along the dirt of Lawrence's river levee, baking in the 90 degree heat, back an forth, knocking out 20 at my "stumbling out of bed" pace, maybe finishing with a mile or two around 6:30 if I'm feeling spicy.
Again, we're getting there.