I had some grandiose plans for about two days. I was getting completely psyched to run the 20-mile Uwharrie Trail Run on Feb. 6 of next year, but when I actually sat down to register this evening, I found that the race is already full. It must be really tough to get a spot because the website says folks who volunteer in 2010 are guaranteed a spot in the 2011 race. What a bummer. That’s what was on my mind as I ran yesterday afternoon and as I was grinding my way through a boring as hell interval workout on the bike trainer today. Now what will I focus on?
I’ve been cruising the race calendars tonight looking for something equally insane, but there doesn’t seem to be a slew of crazy races coming up in our area anytime within the next three to four months. If you know of one, let me know because I’m itching to try something new. I’ve been a little frustrated lately with my relatively unchanging 5K times, but Rex reminded me not long ago that considering I’ve run pretty close to my fastest times ever for nearly 10 years, I really can’t complain. He’s right. I have been amazingly blessed with very few injuries or illnesses, and I have run pretty darned consistently for a fairly long time. I’d like to get fast again… and then continue to get faster, but I don’t know if I can right now. Maybe I’m on the downhill slope or maybe I just don’t have the time to dedicate myself to it right now, and by the time I do, well… I’ll probably be on the downhill slope for sure. That really doesn’t matter to me to tell the truth. It is what it is. I have small children right now, and I know there are Olympic athletes who manage quite nicely, but I have come to terms with my limitations, and I’m actually very comfortable with them. All I know is that I’m strong as a bull, I process oxygen really well, and I’m pretty durable. If I were at a genetic gifts buffet, it would be tempting to pick fast and talented, but there’s something to be said for strong, resilient and mentally tough. You might not want me on your 4×4 relay, but I’d have your back in a bar fight and I could probably drag you several miles out of a rocky canyon to save your life or at least run to bring back help, so I’m not completely without value.
With this understanding, and the knowledge that I suck at cross-country, I’m searching for long trail runs. It makes no sense really, except that I enjoy doing what the majority of other people think is impossible. They think what we, my weird friends and I, do is crazy and unreasonable, but the truth is there’s not really anything terribly special about it. Our bodies are designed to work, to sweat, to labor under harsh conditions and to push beyond our self-imposed limits. It used to be a matter of survival; now it’s just a matter of choice. I choose to use my body in the way God meant for it to be used. I can’t see Him designing us with visions of us sitting in front of a television and eating potato chips every night. He meant for us to be out in the world, running along leaf covered trails, breathing in the smell of damp earth and feeling our hearts beating, not from strain, but from the pure joy of living.