Run, Julie, Run - The Big Question: Why?
When I announced in my post at the beginning of March that I was going to attempt the North Face 50-mile Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain, I said that it was my way of celebrating 10 years of breast cancer survival. That explains why I'm doing something, but it doesn't explain why do this.
|Sunrise over East River|
after morning speed workout
The challenge? To test myself? Maybe that's part, but it's not the whole thing.
When people ask why, I'm a bit confused about what to say. Trust me, I know how absurd the idea of running 50 miles is. At least with climbing there is marginally a reason: because it's there. OK, maybe that's not much of a reason, but at least the climb is going somewhere - the top, and then the bottom - safely. But running 50 miles?
I found out about the race while hiking in Bear Mountain last spring. I came upon a lot of really tired runners and someone told me she was running 50 miles. I had the perfectly sane reaction of, "wow, that's seriously crazy!" But at the same time, as I was cheering on runners I didn't know, I had another thought, "whoa, seriously cool!" I came home, googled the race to see what it was, and promptly forgot about it.
During the summer when I was interviewed for my profile in Fitness Magazine, I was asked what my next big fitness goal was. I gave a few of my favorite ideas, but I hadn't committed to any of them. I realized in that moment how I missed having a really big goal. And then from the dark recesses of my mind came, "oh, and there's this crazy race in Bear Mountain....I'm not committing, but it intrigues me."
The idea of running a 50 mile race had taken hold. I still thought it was crazy, but it continued to bounce around in my head. Without really telling anyone, I started running slightly longer distances. I found I liked running longer, and then longer distances. And I liked running longer distances in the woods by myself even better.
What is it? Yes, it's the challenge. I do like pushing myself; I like exploring the edges to see what I can do.
I like having a goal, having a big goal. I enjoy analyzing the situation to see what I need to improve, making a plan for how to make those improvements, and carrying out the plan (even with all the little delays and failures). There's something orderly and comforting about making all the little steps that get me to the goal.
And I like that it's such a completely absurd goal. Maybe it's the iconoclast in me that wants change ideas about what's possible. I mean it when I say that none of us should be limited by our disease, our treatment, or our survival. None of us - and that includes me! (no, I don't expect anyone else to follow suit by running 50 miles. I just hope to encourage anyone to do whatever it is that you dream of.)
Of course, it's such an absurd goal that if I can't do it, who will fault me? I mean, who expects anyone to run 50 miles?
Along the way toward this goal, I've found many unexpected pleasures: friends, love from so many sources (a huge thank you to all who reached out to me here and on the Life-Cise Forum page when I hit a low spot!!!), tremendous beauty, and space and time for my brain to wander. Yes, there's a lot of mind-wandering to be done on a 6 or 7 hr. long run!
I fear that I have failed in explaining the why. It's all of these things and none of these things. I'm doing it because the idea took hold in my brain. I'm doing it because I can eat pretty much anything I want when I'm burning 3000 calories in a run.
I'm doing it because, just maybe, I can.
- BY Julie Goodale | 03.29.2011
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