In three days, I start running with purpose. Every day, I'll check off another box on a mental calendar, log a few more miles on my blog, wear down the brand new trainers, tie a double knot twice, remind myself to stretch, hydrate and lose the extra sleep I am always in want -- and in need -- for. Lather, rinse, repeat.
In the next four and a half months, I'll probably, more or less, log 108 days of running. By the time I reach the starting line, I'll have travelled almost more than 900 kilometres in 18 weeks, which, coincidently enough, is about the distance from my home city of Toronto to Chicago.
Yup, 900 kilometres, 108 days, 18 weeks, 4.5 months, just so on the morning of Oct. 22, I can run for hours with 40,000 fellow fanatics, and a few friends i've met on the way.
From my chequebook, I've already taken out more than $1,500 on hotels and flights. I'll put hundreds more on shirts, shoes, spaghetti dinners, on gels, a new Garmin and Gatorade. What, may my logical mind ask, am I getting out of this?
It's funny they call it a race, because for vast majority of us, it's not, in the traditional sense, a race. We're striving to achieve a before-you-die goal, to continue a lifelong commitment to fitness and to running. Our rivals are not be the people in front of us, but that blister, that nagging knee injury, the mental hurdle as we approach that wall, then break through it like it was never there (one hopes). Our biggest challenge may be the miles we log on a Sunday afternoon in mid-August, or the fact that we have to get up on Monday morning and go to work the day after the 20 miler. Or the lost barbecues, the afternoons on the beach or the endless supply of alcohol that the summer season demands (at least up here in Canada).
But of gains and losses, of pluses and minues, I see my Nalgene bottle half full. With every stride I force myself to run hard, I feel stronger somehow, and not only in my legs. I may regret forfeiting a longer slumber during my morning workouts, but relish in it when I walk into work, feeling fully refreshed and alive.
Alive, good thing I mentioned that.
That must be the key. I feel alive to remember that running has improved my life, made me stronger and healthier in a society that is easy to fall into a sort of a malaise, where sports is something to watch, not to participate in. Our little running is a democracy of sorts, it has no class system, just individuals who train alone and in groups, but run all together on race day. Running helped me take my working life into perspective and made me realize that in this neverending busy schedule we call life, that to pencil in your daily run was the same as saying, "right now, this hour, this workout, is for me." Running is not my life, or the sum of me, but it is a part, and it has given me perspective, not unlike the view of my city that I see from the vantage point on a 10K out and back. Or on a city run, when I stride past commuters as they head their way into work and I on another path. And sometimes, just once in awhile, I find that as the legs turn over, the arms move up and down, that it gives me a purpose: new PR to pursue, new distance to mull over, new route to discover, new shoes to try out, new challenge on the horizon. Chicago in 800 kilometres. Yup, I think i'll run with purpose...