Sunday, May 2, 2010

Races as reminders of what it means to be human

I was watching the biography of Mark Twain by Ken Burns last night (yes, my Netflix suggestions are probably for the "dork" user setting) and one of the talking heads had an interesting insight. Humans are the only animals that need to be reminded of what it means to be human from time to time. Modern life doesn't leave much room for our instinctual side to take over - a lot of what we do is learned. The best writers are able to remind us what it means to be human.
I think this is also true of anything that we do for enjoyment - music, art, sports, relationships etc. We are drawn to things that strip away the trappings of modern life and give us an experience that we enjoy purely because it strikes a chord with us that is so deep we can't necessarily even explain it.
Running is such a pure activity. Nobody has to tell a child how to run - as the book "Born to Run" points out - our bodies are designed to run as much as any other function. You don't have to explain the point of a race - even a two year old understands - who can get to that tree and back first - or around the block.
The Apple Blossom 10k here in Winchester was my last race of the spring. It was relatively warm yesterday morning - the sun was brightly shining on the undulating course. I was well off the front runners by the quarter mile mark and right around the second mile the runner right in front of me dropped out. I wasn't in a good place mentally - but, suddenly some young punk with a mullet (I kid you not) passed me. Speaking of things that no one needs to tell you - you can't let a kid with a mullet beat you.
We went back and forth for a few miles and finally I was able to pull ahead. As I made my way to the finish line the fear of him coming up on my shoulder and overtaking me pushed me to my limits. I ended up about 40 seconds slower than I had hoped - but, I was able to win my competition for the day.
I now have 5 weeks of relatively low mileage with nothing more strenuous than some 150m strides. June, July, August, and September won't be so easy. More on my summer plans next week.

This Week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday: 10 miles 2X1mi tempo
Wednesday: 8 miles
Thursday: 6.5 miles 8X100m
Friday: 4 miles
Saturday: 10 miles Winchester Apple Blossom Festival 10k 33:09
Sunday: 0 miles
Total: 45 miles

Next Week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday: 10 miles
Wednesday: 8 miles
Thursday: 10 miles
Friday: 0 miles
Saturday: 8 miles
Sunday: 13 miles
Total: 56 miles

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