Thursday, September 25, 2008

Running in the Dark

Earlier this week, I ran into a work contact from the West Coast who I've known for years. Rich is also a runner, so he asked about my training. That day, I'd gotten up at 5:30am to run 15 miles before work. I told him about the extra miles and feeling a little worn out. "I know exactly what you're talking about," he said. "And nobody really understands it."

I thought about that quite a bit. Distance running is such a solitary thing. Getting up early on a Tuesday and knocking out lots of miles well before the sun comes up is an odd, nearly irrational activity. Often I've found when people talk about the "marathon experience," they mean the day of the race. In many ways, the race is nearly besides the point. Those 15 miles, seeing NY wake up along the way, are what the real experience is, not a few hours of running along the streets of a big city with tens of thousands of strangers yelling at you. (I sometimes find this almost unsettling, to be honest.) No crowds, no medals, just some chocolate milk at the end and the self-satisfying feeling on the subway that you've already accomplished more than everyone else around you.

11 miles, 1:27:15


Members of the Data Revolution said...

Beautifully captured. I love the training experience, am ambivalent about the racing.

Rouleur said...

There is this quote by Jim Burlant about cycling that goes something like this: Cycling is like a church -- many attend but few understand. The same can be said about 'running in the dark.'

Its the look on the face of the park ranger who unlocks the gates to my favorite running grounds every weekend at 5 a.m. He just shakes his head and I can't wait for church to start.