It's 4 a.m. Sunday morning. I stumble through my pitch-dark house trying not to wake everyone. I start the coffee brewing, jump in the shower...and wonder why on earth I'm up before dawn, getting ready to run another marathon. What madness has me in its grip? I can't remember at this point why I thought this was a good idea.“Happiness is the settling of the soul into its most appropriate spot.” ~ Aristotle
I've just spent the past two days sitting through a Road Runners Club of America Coach Certification Clinic - 9+ hours each day sitting on my tush doing nothing with my body, sloth and tightness settles in. I'm itching to run. So, after deciding Friday night that running the Colfax Marathon would be unwise, I found myself tromping around my house silent and grumpy. My husband asked me what was wrong, about a bazillion times - I said 'nothing', about a bazillion times, churning my decision over and over, silently, in my mind. As we got ready to go to sleep he said: "Just go register. If you want to run it, just go register". So, at 11 p.m. I got up, went downstairs to my office and clicked on the "register" button. Done.
Sunday - 4:34 a.m., I get in the car and point it towards Denver. I crank Coldplay on the stereo, roll down the windows, and breath in the cold, damp morning air. This is one of those mornings that makes you aware that coffee is one of the greatest gifts from the gods. The streets are silent. And as the sun begins to break the horizon, I am reminded of why I thought this was a good idea.
So, where did this idea really come from? Why would I choose to run three marathons in less than 5 weeks? I'm definitely the quality over quantity type of runner (and I'd say in most aspects of my life). So why would I go this route. This goes against much of what I believe is good and worthwhile.
Well this winter was tough on me for many reasons - tough training (weather conditions), concussed training, sick training, injured training - and then sucky races for all of that! What could I take away from all of this? I didn't even have the opportunity to learn lots of important lessons from it all - except, of course, that you can't control the weather (Boston) nor can you control the negligent actions of someone else (concussion) - But I already knew that!
My thoughts on running Colfax went something like this:
1) I just feel like running it - the weather forecast predicted practically brilliant conditions. I just feel like going for a really long run in brilliant weather! Even though I had run a marathon the previous weekend, I felt really quite recovered, my legs felt fairly good, and my heart wanted to run.
2) Maybe, just maybe, I can salvage something out of this training cycle by: a) doing something I never ever would have contemplated doing, and b) qualifying for Marathon Maniacs, something I never really want to do (I never even gave any thought to the notion) nor thought I ever could.But, "Is this a foolhardy action?" "Is this imprudent?" I asked myself. As a good Aristotelian this is an important question. Additionally, am I trying to prove something (to myself and others)? By Friday I had convinced myself that it was indeed foolhardy - that's what reason tried to tell me. I could hurt myself. I'm pushing things too far. The risks are too great. This is just a stupid idea. All my friends will think I'm crazy.
But reason is not the only factor important to weigh. Aristotle describes how the virtues (such as courage, prudence, etc.) demand a balance between the rational and irrational parts of the soul. Emotion (the irrational) moves us to act. Without emotion, without passion, we don't care about anything so we don't 'want' to do anything. Reason directs the emotions, for without reason our emotions run amok. But you have to have both in balance, and that's the hard part. Reason said: "No. Don't run. It's stupid and risky". Emotion said: "Baaaa. Run. You want to run". The crux is finding that balance.
“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” ~ AristotleSo I ran. It was fun. I fortuitously ran into a friend around mile 3 and we chatted the whole way (she just needed an easy qualifying time for the Pikes Peak Marathon) - something I never do when I'm in "race" mode. I looked around, I lost track of the miles, I stopped twice, yes twice (!) to pee, I stopped at water stops, I maintained my form, I high-fived some friends passing the other way...
And I just went for a nice long run on a brilliant day and had a lot of fun doing it. In the end, that's why I run and continue to run...
"No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness." ~ Aristotle