OK, we've all had several days to feel bad for injured buddy John. My wife Salome has also been sidelined with a foot injury. We were joined in Miami by several of the JFR running group, but no one seems to be signed up for the next big local event: the Ala Half Marathon. I check in with several more running buddies. They too are not running. The list of friends running this event looks short. Next, I receive an e-mail Thursday morning from the ING Miami Marathon promoters asking me to complete a survey about my experience in running the Miami Half Marathon. Completing the survey made me think about the reasons we run.
Some people run to raise funds for charities. Some run to lose weight. Some run to have a goal to focus their training on. As for me, I run for fun. Both for the social aspect of training and the event itself. Road races and triathlons are somewhat like attending a music festival or a party. It's enjoyable training with other people. It's a fun social event going to an expo. It's fun chatting before the event as we all get a little keyed up to start. It's fun having small talk with other competitors on the course. It's fun hanging out post race talking about everyone's race experience. So, while there can be pain and discomfort during a road race or triathlon, it's like going to a party. You get to hang out with your friends and meet some new people that have similar interests as you. You also know that most everyone you interact with is a "can do" type person. They pretty much all have interesting stories to tell and race experiences to share.
To do any endurance event requires planning and dedication to training. You learn there are no short cuts to getting ready for an event. If you do short change yourself in training, there is usually a price to pay during the event. Thus, we end up doing at least base training year round and get geared up for major events. That base training keeps us fit and feeling well. Our bodies are more tone. We are a bit more careful about what we eat and how much sleep we are getting. The regular training creates good habits that make us feel better physically and mentally. We are better for it.
The events themselves are the payoff for all the good work we do in training. It's the party after finals. Its the party CPAs have at the end of tax season. We've put in weeks of effort; now its time for some fun. If the event is long enough, we get a medal as a party favor like reminder of the event. We get to hang out with old friends and meet new ones. Like at most parties: the more friend that are in attendance, the more fun the experience.
As I geared up for this event, I train alone. No buddy runs; no meeting up with other athletes. Solo training, being less of a social event, isn't that fun. It's work without the comradery of fellow workers. I've had to force myself to train for A1a. I had a 10 mile run scheduled for Wednesday night. Coming off a night of insomnia, I was not looking forward to the run. However, by the time I hit my turn around point, I hit my stride. I ran the return 5 miles at race pace. I felt great. I knew I'd put in good miles that will pay dividends on Sunday.
Friday morning was my last run before Sunday's event. I thought about a treadmill speed workout, but its was a cool 61 degrees out. How could I not run along the beach? I ran my 10K route. The sun was out and a cool breeze made it the nicest conditions one could ask for to run. I experienced the pure joy of running that I think is primordial in us as a species. I wave good morning to one of my church's priests, Father Spiro, as I pass by the St. Bart's coffee shop. He's at the cafe's outdoor seating area many mornings with his second congregation of coffee drinkers and sun worshipers. His presence there always gives me a little boost as I know a friend will be there to wave to as I pass by. Yes, even a solo training run can be a social event as we say good morning to other runners and friends we come across on our run.
So, while a lot of my friends and my wife will be missing out, I'll be at the starting line of the A1a Half Marathon at 6 AM this Sunday. I know a few of my buddies will be there. To you, I say: "I'll see you at the Expo or the starting line." As for my running buddies that will not or can not run this event, my sentiment will be like the postcard: "Having a great time. Wish you were here!"