Running, Revisisted

August 6th, 2016

The Rio Summer Olympics kicks off tonight and even though I don’t often watch sports, hit the track, or the road if I can help it, I look forward to watching people move.

Four years ago I was on vacation in Maine and woke up, poured myself some cereal, and turned on the TV. I found the 2012 London Olympics women’s marathon. As I ate a few bowls of Honey Bunches of Oats (with almonds) I watched the runners crush mile after mile, in the rain. They moved at a pace which I could only sustain for maybe two miles. Before the race was even over I had signed up for the Wineglass Marathon (giving myself a comfy month and a half to train).

Two years before that I had decided to start running regularly, but not seriously. After hating every shoe I put on my foot, I picked up a pair of Fivefingers. I ran three miles in them and couldn’t walk properly for days. Calf pain. Blisters. I knew it wasn’t a fault in the footwear, just my body. As I adjusted to the most minimal running I had ever done, I really fell in love with it. The lack of “shoe” forced me to run more efficiently, with quicker and lighter steps. I found myself getting faster and stronger. I ran in them almost exclusively until I signed up for that marathon. I didn’t love the shoes, specifically, just what the shoes enabled me to do.

But this isn’t a post about footwear, I promise, it is about inspiration. It is worth noting, though, that I got a pair of proper shoes (New Balance Minimus) for that Wineglass Marathon, my first, and did okay — 3:04:19. Qualified for Boston, but didn’t enter, because after that things changed quite a bit.

I knew I had a good “problem” when my go-to seven mile run started to feel very short. It was too easy, like I had taken a shortcut or stopped too soon. What is longer than a marathon? Did people do anything beyond 26.2? I was naive, and it wasn’t until 2015 that I ran my first ultra, a trail 50 miler. I finished in just over 10 hours, and had some soul searching to do in terms of running. I felt like I had accomplished something huge, but I knew I didn’t want more miles. 50 was plenty. But I also knew that races no longer mattered to me. I entered a few after that 50, halfheartedly, mostly because other friends were running them. And then I took a vacation and chilled out on running for a bit.

gif © Christopher DelCollo

When I picked it back up in September of last year I searched for new trails to love, with no plan, and no race on the calendar. And before I knew it I was running over 100 happy miles per month. Then 120, then 140, and in February of this year, 150. All outside, rain/snow/shine (no gym memberhsip/treadmill access for me). If I log over another 81.1 miles in the next 26 days it will be a full year of 100+ mile months. That’s a not-so-humble brag I know, but some people can do that without breaking much of a sweat.

I ran the only race I’ll run this year back in June and didn’t even finish. But two days later I was back on the trails simply because I love it.Which brings me back to where we started…

The Olympics are here! The last time the summer games happened I was inspired to run like never before. Maybe this is your year to find inspiration that will literally move you hundreds and then thousands of miles.

Some wonderful humans woke up early and paid real money to run this trail 10k on a disgustingly hot and humid Sunday in Ithaca, NY