Hanging out over coffee after our 10 mile run along the Santa Ana River Trail, Jim mentioned that he was uncertain whether to run the Boston Marathon. He had qualified earlier this year at his first marathon in seven years. The required travel, starting line logistics, etc; all had him a little out of his comfort zone. Mary suggested that he should go and just enjoy the experience. She went on to suggest that he just run it and not worry about time. The look on his face was that of a person trying to make sense of something just spoken to them in a foreign language.
In the ensuing conversation it became apparent that Jim saw no value in just “running” the race. He’d never in 20+ years of running not raced a race. For the couple of years that I’ve know Jim I’ve seen this to be true. At every race I’ve seen him in he lays it all out there and is completely used up at the end. Jim is often recovering from one injury or the other. Jim is intense.
Mary on the other hand runs races for the atmosphere and camaraderie. She runs for the physical benefits. I can’t remember her sustaining an injury in the 3 years I’ve known her. Mary is upbeat.
Earlier in the run I had been asked when my next marathon was. I replied that I would be running Rocket City in Huntsville, Alabama in three weeks. I would be my 12th state, 15th marathon in 4 years. I lamented my recent slower times attributing them to the recent spate of marathons and continued hip issues.
Does someone who just runs a race not posses a competitive spirit? Does a racer miss the social aspects and the aura of the race locale? Of course the issue is more complex that this but where do you fall on the race vs. run debate?
I realized that I currently fall more in line with Mary than Jim. I had aspired (and still do) to running a Boston qualifying marathon. Although I think that running many marathons close together and running a BQ marathon are almost mutually exclusive goals. In my first couple of years of running it wasn’t unreasonable to expect my marathon times to improve one after the other. To achieve the BQ I think I'll have to reassess the chase for states at least for a little while.
Two weeks post marathon (recover phase?) I ran 22 miles. The next two weeks are taper (right?) for Rocket City with mileage in the low 30’s planned. I’ll be “running” Rocket City and doing my best to keep up with the other bloggers.