Running isn’t everything. This is something that I’ve been starting to realize and think about more and more in the last few weeks. Lately, running has pretty much ruled my life. In the fall of last year, I started working at ZombieRunner, a fabulous store that caters to all runners, but mostly trail and ultrarunners. Not long after starting the job, I signed up for my first and second 50 mile races. Kind of extreme, right? I’d never ran more than a marathon and already I was browsing websites to see what would be the perfect first 100 mile race. That’s right, 100 miles. I knew I’d be able to tackle 50 no problem and I was already dreaming of taking the next step to 100 miles before I’d ever ran my first ultra.
In January, I ran my first ultramarathon- Crystal Springs 50K in Woodside, CA. It was beautiful and fun and easy. (It was easy because I ran at an easy pace. I always do. If I were to ever push myself for speed, I might not have as much fun running. So “easy” doesn’t make me a super-athlete, it just means I’m a slacker.) After that, I was hooked.
Since then, I’ve been running 50K’s as training for my 50 milers. Since January I’ve run 4 50K’s and one 50 miler. My next 50 miler will be in July at the Tahoe Rim Trail 50M, and I have 2 50K’s in mind to do before then, as well as a training run at Western States training camp next weekend.
So basically, this is my life in a nutshell:
–Work in a running store. Talk running, ultrarunning, trail running. Browse race/blog/shoe websites when it’s slow.
–Run. Train on treadmills and trails. Speedwork, long runs, strength training for proper form.
–Race or volunteer *almost* every weekend. Race as practice. Volunteer to give back (and to earn a free race entry. It’s a vicious cycle).
And I’m just starting to realize that maybe it’s a bit too much.
Some runners have friends who are runners. I have friends who like to run, but aren’t as overly-obsessed with running as I am. I’ll read blogs about other ultrarunners who say then went on a nighttime trail run with a bunch of buddies, or had a friend pace them the last 30 miles of a race. I don’t have those kinds of friends. My friend Dan recently asked me to play softball for his team for a game. (I sucked, btw, but that’s neither here nor there.) I, however, don’t think I could ask Dan to pace me the last 30 miles at Rio Del Lago (or whatever 100 I might end up running).
Which is not a bad thing. I think if I surrounded myself with other ultrarunners, I might get a little carried away. True, my running might improve if I had more people to push me and train with me. However, I know there are other things in life that are more important to me that running:
I only began thinking about this whole running-is-taking-over-my-life thing recently because of some things I’ve been missing out on due to running. Stay out late on Saturday? No, I woke up at 6, ran 30 miles, and have to work at the store the next morning. A’s game next weekend? No, I’m volunteering *or* running 30 miles. Again.
I am extremely grateful to be able to do what I’m doing. I am healthy. I have the time. I have the means. Running can be an extremely selfish sport. Tony has had to put up with watching me run more than ever while he’s dealing with multiple knee surgeries. He’s also had to wake up at the butt-crack of dawn to watch my races. Sometimes we miss out on fun things going on with his friends because we’ll be out of town for a race. Poor guy.
All this being said, I’m not getting burnt out. I am enjoying every running-related moment I have. I know come fall, I’ll be back in school, taking graduate classes and teaching middle schoolers how to read, and running will fall on the wayside. I’ll look to the weekends like every other person and enjoy the time to relax and spend with friends and family. Running and ultrarunning will still be in my life, but maybe once a month rather than every.single.week.
Life is all about balance, and hopefully one day I’ll find one.