A Gradual Obsession

dublin 2

My dear friend, and running partner, Jen, who is often to blame for the crazy running shenanigans that I get myself into.  We tend to bring out obsessive habits in one another.  This picture is from our first year running together way back in 2005.

Running is an interesting beast.  When I first started running almost fifteen years ago, it was neither easy, not particularly enjoyable.  Three miles was a challenge and anything beyond that was intimidating.  I signed up for my first half marathon after about a year, but I was so nervous about completing the distance that I ran two 14-milers before the actual race.  18 months later, I completed my first full marathon, but still was far from hooked.  Back in those early days, I would train for a race, run the race, and then take time off, sometimes for several months.  For several years, I coached and ran through the fall marathon season and then took a complete break from running from November until spring rolled back around.  During those years, I would run 1-3 races a year, with at least a year between marathons.

I returned to competitive running almost a year after my children were born, and slowly began to rebuild my base.  I ran a 5K, then trained for another marathon.  I started to reap the benefits of good, consistent training, which encouraged me to keep at least a moderate amount of mileage up throughout the entire year.  I began to run more races, but still only a handful a year, with one or two of them being longer races.  In 2013, things began to pick up.  I ran two marathons and three halfs that year.  More notably, I crossed the 1000 mile mark for the first time ever, capping off the year with 1102 miles.  The intensity continued to increase in 2014.  I ran a total of 12 races last year, including my first ever Ragnar Relay, and my first ever ultra.  I finished 2014 with 1371 miles, which included a very light December with only 42 miles the entire month.  I was aiming to take a six week break after Philly, but I found myself feeling restless after a little more than a week away from running so I compromised by keeping my December runs short and easy.  That should have been a warning sign.

I entered 2015 with fairly modest plans.  I knew I wanted to run a half in late spring.  I wanted another ultra attempt, since my first one last year was a fairly painful experience.  And I had thoughts of running another marathon, as my next full would be my 10th marathon overall.  In between, I figured I’d run a couple of 5ks and 10ks for fun.  I decided that Labor Pains, in early September, would be a good ultra choice.  From there, I committed to the Delaware Half Marathon in May, and the Marine Corps Marathon in late October.  Then things kind of fell apart.  When training for an ultra, the long runs tend to get really long.  Rather than run 30 miles on my own, I thought it made more sense to run an easy marathon as a training run, and then just tack on a few miles at the end.  I convinced my running partner to run the Maryland Trail Classic with me in August.  A few weeks later, she talked me into the 1/2 Sauer, 1/2 Kraut Marathon in June, again rationalizing that it was a cheap local race, and it would be more fun to run an easy marathon than to do 24 miles that day unsupported.  I signed up for the race.  In the meantime, a handful of shorter races showed up in April.  Almost everyone I knew was running the Hot Chocolate 15K, so I had to do that one.  Then my school decided to put on a 5K as a fundraiser, and of course it would be rude to skip that race when I run so many others.  Our family has developed a tradition of running The Color Run together every summer, but this year the race was moved to late April, so of course that one was added to the calendar as well.  Which brings us to yesterday, when my lovable, yet crazy running partner talked me into joining her for the Wineglass Marathon in early October.  I’m still not quite sure what reasons she gave me, and yet we both signed up.

So here I am now, in the year that was supposed to be moderately ambitious.  In the next 6 weeks, I am running a 15K, two 5Ks, and a half-marathon.  Quite a few races in a short time, but all of very manageable distance.  And then the summer starts.  The first marathon comes in June.  Then I wisely took July off from racing, since we are taking two weeks of vacation.  The problem begins in August.  As I realized last night, Trail Classic is going to serve as my longest run for Labor Pains, which will now be my longest run before Wineglass, which will be my peak run before Marine Corps.  My college roommate has been racing intensely for several years and I used to make fun of her because she never ran 20-milers, choosing instead just to roll one marathon into the next.  Now I find that I am planning to employ the exact same strategy.  In my moderate year, I currently have nine races scheduled, including three marathons and an ultra in just three months.  Perhaps the craziest part of all this is that it doesn’t sound that crazy to me.  I’m not a fast runner, so I still have difficulty acknowledging that I am a “serious” runner.  And yet earlier today I found myself explaining that tomorrow’s 15K will be a light race for me, since I’m not planning to push the pace too much, and 9 miles is relatively short for me.  It wasn’t until my colleague gave me a disbelieving look that I was able to stop and remember that 9 miles sounds pretty long to most normal people.

I think it’s time that I finally admit that I may, in fact, have a running addiction.

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