Over the next three weekends I am racing a 5000 meters, 10,000 meters and half marathon, in that order. I just finished Once A Runner, probably the most classic fiction book about running there is. I will write a review about it sooner or later.
In the book Cassiday is trying to push himself to a new level, the best in the world. There is ample discussion about others not understanding his pursuit. For the most part, I totally get it.
We, competitive long distance runners, are trying to race times that we have never physically done before. The last 600 meters of my mile a month ago was a place I had never been. In those 103 seconds I was experiencing the fruits of thousands of miles and hundreds of hours of training. Oh it was suffering alright. But that is what we are searching for, the feeling of a new experience only rewarded through weeks, months, and for me now years of training. An experience that in our dreams seems one step past mortal.
Nothing really changes. We still have to grocery shop, pump our own gas, and go to the bathroom. We still get tired.
These next three weeks may be my end. Oh I don't plan to quit running and competing, but this 5k and 10k on the track may be my last good chance to set personal records. I have no future track season planned. Due to other commitments in my head I don't even know the next time I will have a chance to step on a track for a race. This may be it. I really hope to go to a place in the last mile I have never been. Have a split, and of course a finish time, I have never had. It will hurt. I will be stiff on the last lap.
As I grow older the immediacy becomes more clear all the time. I did not set a 5000 or 10,000 personal record in 2009, 2010 or 2011. If that happens again I may not be able to set a personal record at those distances. This is it.