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Friday, May 6, 2011

Why I Run Full and Half Marathons…

Tomorrow morning, I’ll wake up at about 5am to make it on time to the Frederick Running Festival where I plan to run a half marathon – which is 13.1 miles.

When I started this blog, nearly a year ago to the day, my very first post was about the completion of my third full marathon. Since then, I’ve completed two more full and several halves.

Often times, friends and family say they understand my desire to run a few miles – but they completely don’t get the rationale behind running 26.2 miles or even half that distance. They think it’s crazy.

Maybe it is.

While I originally started running to reap the benefits for my physical health, I recently came across an article that nicely articulates the mental health benefits running provides – so maybe I’m not crazy after all.

The excerpt below was originally published in the spring 2011 issue of The Trail magazine, a supplement publication I get from Runner’s World.  The article was written by Shannon Farar-Griefer, 49, who is a mother of three kids and started running in 1997.  Since then she has completed 25 ULTRAMARATHONS – which is running 100 miles straight through.

Now to me – running 100 miles is crazy.  So I thought it might be worth reading her justification for such supreme lunacy.  Here’s the article in full.

“Running 100 miles is about the challenge of pushing your body and mind to places where someone who’s not a runner – and maybe even a marathoner- might thing unimaginable. It’s not about running all-out fast, like you might do in the other races; it’s about finding a consistent pace that makes sense for the terrain and keeping your legs moving , no matter how much they might want to stop. To me, it’s like a metaphor for life. You’ve got to take the bad with the good, because there are times you are going to hurt and feel horrible out there. It’s going to hurt – just like hitting the wall in the marathon, but in a 100-miler that hurt might last for two hours or four hours or 10 hours.

At times, everything hurts, and you feel heavy and slow – your legs, your body and your brain. But that’s part of the challenge. It’s about having the passion to do it, making the commitment to train, and getting through all of those obstacles in the race. And that’s what life is all about. It’s a huge relief when you finish a 100-miler, but it’s also kind of sad because the incredible journey you just went through to get to that point is over. The point where you’re about five miles away and can ‘smell’ the finish line is almost better than the actual finish line itself.  You want that feeling to last forever, so you start thinking about your next race. A lot of runners remember their times – but I don’t keep track of that stuff or even the number of finishes.
 I just look at it like a blessing in life that I’m able to go out and run 100 miles.”~Shannon Farar-Griefer, Ultramarathon Runner, 2011 The Trail Magazine, Rodale

I can relate to that.

There are so many people who are bed-ridden or unable to walk – it is truly a blessing to completely engage that ability to the fullest. And when that God-given ability to move is married to a purpose, such as completing a race of any duration, something special happens akin to what Griefer eloquently explained above.

However, running 100 miles straight is STILL crazy…..

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