12/31/15: “Congratulations! You are registered for the Mark Twain 100 – 50 miler. Do you want to share this news on Facebook?” I pause, looking at the big blue button and decide what the hell. The news was then quickly spread on Instagram and Twitter. It was so much easier to to spread the news across social media than it was to click the submit button that charged my card and confirmed my entry into this 50 mile endeavor. Plus, I have sat down several times to write about it and then walked away. Why?
When I texted my run partner the news, I noted that I simultaneously wanted to smile and vomit. That sounds about right for running an ultra from everything I’ve ever read, seen or heard. As the congratulations came across the various media platforms, even though I hadn’t actually run 50 miles yet, surprisingly no one said I was crazy. Instead I had people volunteer for long runs and trails. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the tremendous support I had. Thankfully though, no one asked me why…
I wasn’t worried about other runners asking me so much as the rest of the population. Ask a runner why they run and you will get a blank look and then maybe a canned answer. If you get a canned answer, it is because they have fielded this question before and realized there is no one answer. I love running! That is the simplest answer for me and I think it is the obvious answer that everyone sees. Therefore, no one questioned my desire to run 50 miles- at least they didn’t to my face. The reasons why I love running are so intensely personal and varied, as they are with all runners. I could spend hours explaining why I run, the joy and peace it gives me, but there is no understanding it unless you yourself do it.
- my meditation and spiritual time
- health: both general and pain management for arthritis
- helps with depression and anxiety from past traumas
- friendship and community
- dealing with everyday stress
- discovering myself and becoming the best me possible
This is a short list of reasons in no particular order. These reasons listed today are not necessarily the same reasons as to why I started running to begin with. Even still, my reasons are not the same as yours and that’s okay. They don’t have to be. The emotions and feelings are still shared when the run is done and the finish line crossed. Because as you breathe and struggle next to me on the road or the trail, I share your pain and struggle. I have been where you are and I will gladly come again. We can cheer each other, silently if need be. Even if I don’t look over as I pass you or you pass me, know I have acknowledged you. I have gratitude for you sharing in this with me, this thing I love.
As for why 50 miles? I could describe to you my decision making process that led me to this. In fact, I started a post to do just that.It was well thought out and discussed with my running partner. Or, I could tell you other reasons such as: it has always been something I wanted to do, that I love being outside, I’ve been wanting to start running trails, I want to get a trucker hat, etc. The reality is I do not have a satisfactory answer as to “Why?” Which was why it was so easy to blurt out a quick sound bite across social media, yet so difficult to actually write about. I know the reasons I give today will change and evolve over the next 9 months. This is part of the process of running, the growing that is involved, especially running that far. I am looking forward to this and writing about it. The best, most honest answer I have today is I am curious. I want to dig deep inside of me, pull that out and take a hard look at it. I want to live. This answer I do not think will ever change and so I run.