Tuesday, 26 February 2013

No frills, just words... (Lots of words)

I think the upsides to not running so many marathons or ultras are that I now really appreciate how great it felt, at the time, to take part in so many races; meet so many other runners and like-minded people, and run in some truly lovely surroundings.

The feeling of finishing a race is like no other, I think. It’s this euphoric feeling and nothing else really matters. It’s something that no one can take away from you. It’s this inner happiness that radiates through you entirely. It’s something that you can’t buy, but only experience through hard effort and therefore, it’s genuine. It’s something that you wish you could bottle up and really show someone who hasn’t experienced it, just how great it is. Truth be told, it’s really quite addictive. I really miss it. If only I’d done something other than an arts/ humanities related degree subject (BA Drama and English), then maybe I wouldn’t find myself unemployed. But I can’t dwell on that, and believe me, I have dwelled on this a lot. Ultimately, it wouldn’t be me if I had chosen another path. I might not even be sat here typing all of this now, because, who knows, in a different reality I may never have even run one marathon. So, no dwelling. I only wish to be able to do what I love doing some more.

I had hoped that I would be able to afford to make it to some ‘training’ marathons/ shorter ultras this February and March, in preparation for Thames Path 100 at the end of March. This 100 miler means a lot to me. As I’ve previously mentioned in other blog posts, I made it to Mile 96 last year, before the race was cancelled due to hypothermic weather conditions. Needless to say, I have a lot of unfinished business with this race, and I am also pretty nervous about taking part.

Unfortunately, I have only managed one event this year, so far. I completed the Wilmot Wander 32 miler at the end of January. Having done no events in December, it felt so great to put on my off-road trail shoes and run through massive puddles and mud. I miss it so incredibly much right now. I think I can speak for the majority of distance runners when I say, that, running is not merely a hobby for me, but a way of life. It is not just a little hobby that I could take or leave. It becomes a part of who you are. I cannot imagine who I would be, or what I would do without it in my life.

So, I have a list of marathons that I constantly update and I cross things off on this list when I have officially entered or completed an event. I think it is the one area of my life where I am completely organised (most of the time)! For February, I had entered the Belvoir Challenge 26 miler for Sat 23rd, but ultimately I just couldn’t afford to get there.  I do look up how far away events are from where I live, in advance. However, for some reason, I had underestimated just how far away this one was.

 Actually, in the ‘good old days’, 2 ½ hours away wouldn’t have been considered so far away, by my standards. However, these days, on a budget, 2 ½ hours away is quite a lot of petrol pennies. Then on Sun 24th, a lovely running friend alerted me to the fact that their marathon was on the Sunday – Poets Path Potter marathon. Again, my head was filled with possibilities about how I could possibly make this one, maybe I would be able to scrape together some money, and maybe I could get there...maybe, maybe, maybe. I couldn’t. This was a real shame, because it would have been lovely to see runners who I haven’t seen in so long. These are the people and the races that used to make up my weekends.

Now, instead of friendly runners and running adventures, I dread my weekends. They are lonely places, wherein I don’t see any friendly faces and I don’t go on any running adventures. Yes, I drag myself out of the house and my rut for a good 8-10 miler and my miles are getting faster, but the camaraderie isn’t there. There’s no great fun in it. They can be really enjoyable runs, but it’s not the same. I have now ‘banned’ myself from looking at Facebook newsfeed, because I just truly and completely miss all the events I used to be able to do so freely. It hurts.

There are upsides though, as I said. I weigh a lot less than I did when I was running multiple marathons every weekend (weirdly). In theory, your body just become more efficient and likely conserves more energy, rather than burning it really quickly. With so many long distance runs, it’s probably in some kind of panic/ survival mode and thinking, what on earth are you putting me through?! There’s that theory and also the fact that I definitely did eat a lot more junk after races. I just craved salty fast food and it was pretty much all I could/ wanted to eat after a really long event. Also, since not running so many long events, my running has gotten better. I’ve picked up some speed again and that feels really nice to get out there for a run and be pleasantly surprised by how much mileage you were able to pack into an hour!

So, this major lack of marathon and ultra-running does have its advantages. But, I’m not going to lie; I miss it and I’d much rather be doing more events right now. Fortunately, I’ve got thoughts of Thames Path 100, GUCR (145 miler) and Thunder Run (24 hour run) to keep myself occupied.  Yet, I’d give anything to breathe in the overpowering smell of deep heat and smelly runners’ right now...

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