The great thing about running is that it helps me put life into perspective, to center me. It allows me to be a hero or legend, or to face up to my inadequacies. It allows me to be alone and to slip into my own mind. On my run, I am searching for the meaning within my experiences. In that hour (or so) devoid of distraction, when the world is on hold, I can focus on the troubles and joys of becoming myself and arrive at some sort of peace. I am the closest I will ever come to who I am, and to what I believe.
I still run in groups, I enjoy the reverie and camaraderie that comes from a number of strangers getting together as a group to help achieve personal goals. However much I love the group aspect I truly crave the training and the solitude of racing. I look forward to the hours spent on the road. There I will find contemplation. To discovering how easy it is to escape from the body into a total encounter with my thoughts - thoughts I rarely have, consciously or otherwise. Those training runs become my hours for exploring the meaning of my past, and where I am going. The time to contemplate allows me to come to terms with the year I have had. Loss and love and loss and love again, going to the brink yet being back for yet another second chance. To think of the people I have hurt and to who I have made smile. To appreciating my failures and successes equally - and the life experience they have given me.
Some people see a near middle aged guy running along the back roads, some might find it foolish, some might wish they can do it. For me it is where I find the essence of my being. Where I find my limits and try to push through them. It is where I can learn that I can overcome any obstacle and survive - just from the act of putting one foot in front of the other and willing my body to stay in a state of motion. It is that simple and that complicated.
I look forward to the agony and ecstasy of racing. I have never had an experience that can encompass as many feelings as I do when I am running a full or half-marathon. It has taught me to not only enjoy the finish line but finishing runs and to celebrate the work it took to get there as well. To enjoy the pain, the doubt, the happiness, the fear and to use it fuel and to propel me over the many remaining finish lines I will be facing in the future.