Unless you're an elite with sponsorships and stipends, you run in your free time, while managing responsibilities in the workplace and at home. And if you're like me, responsibilities at home involve, first and foremost, being a loving, supportive and caring spouse and parent. This requires not just heart, but also time! But it goes beyond that. The lawn's gotta get mowed. There's a growing list of odd jobs requiring trips to Lowe's and plenty of elbow grease. Etc. Balancing it all, when each priority is just that--a priority--is very hard. When I'm training for a big race like the Leadville 100, sometimes I feel like I'm maxed out, with nothing more to give beyond the steps I take in my running shoes. Feeling maxed out isn't a good place to be, and yet many of us--maybe you, too--find ourselves there quite often.
Most runners I know have their priorities listed in basically the same order that I do. Still, I've met a few runners who do things differently, and that's their business. Sometimes I hear about runners who have unsupportive spouses and yet they still manage to get in the miles. I can't imagine doing what I do without a supportive wife who's always been there encouraging me.
Running can be a selfish sport--and it's important that we as runners understand and recognize this. Asking family to make time to go to Leadville every August and crew for me seems incredibly selfish. Maybe that's one of the reasons why I'm thinking about running the Leadville 100 in 2012 without a crew and potentially with no pacers except for the last 13.5 miles (hopefully with my pal, Lance). Anne, Noah and others would still be there, but not to follow me all over the course the entire day.
As runners, we often take our sport way too seriously. As the saying goes, "Running is entirely too important to be taken seriously." I often have to remind myself that running is something I do in my free time. I'm not paid to do it. It doesn't help pay the bills (except when I won $300 in 2009 after winning a 100). No one is holding me accountable. And when I'm dead and gone, no one's gonna care that I once earned a 1,000-mile Leadville 100 buckle, was a Leadman and finished Ironman Hawaii. All that's really going to matter is the mark I left on this world. Maybe my running (and even blogging?) will leave a little bit of a mark, but not like family.
I just ordered "Unbreakable: The Western States 100", and am very excited to finally see it. Of the four runners profiled, I've met Anton and Geoff and they both seem like super guys who do it the right way. I've never met Hal Koerner, but I have the utmost respect for his toughness and tenacity. As for Kilian, my feelings on him are well-documented (I love his aproach to running). Stay tuned for a review of "Unbreakable"!
Injury update: Last week I ran 55.6 miles and cycled about 40, putting in just shy of 10 hours of training. While my right Achilles tendon seems to have improved, my right calf and ankle aren't being as cooperative. Somehow, someway, I've developed pain in my inner right calf. My ankle has been a problem for a while. I'm starting to wonder if all those sprains haven't all taken a toll. All that said, I'm confident I'm getting better and will have a great 2012. Big goals for the year:
- PR at the Georgia Marathon (Atlanta) in March--Current PR is 2:58. A new PR at the Georgia Marathon might be unrealistic due to my current injury. We'll see.
- Sub-4:20 at the Leadville Trail Marathon in late June.
- Sub-20 hours at the Leadville Trail 100 in August.
- 140+ miles at the Across the Years 24-Hour in December/January. Across the Years in 2012 is gradually taking hold as an event I very much care about--kind of like the North Coast 24 in 2009, when I ran 131 miles and left at least 5-10 MORE miles on the course. With my cruising speed, I was built to put up lots of miles in 24-hour races, or so I think. Just sayin'.
Final note: Endurance Planet now features a weekly "Ask the Ultrarunner" podcast with Lucho, aka Tim Luchinske, who lives near Boulder, Colorado. Tim's a former professional triathlete who's finished high in the standings at Ironman Hawaii. These days, Lucho's busy training for Leadman in 2012 and coaching athletes. In 2010, he finished 6th overall at the Leadville 100. If you haven't yet tuned into Lucho's podcasts with Tawnee over at Endurance Planet, you need to--they're packed with helpful information and lots of inspiration for ultrarunners of all abilities. Get over there!