Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Reflections on a Green Mountain

I keep starting this post and deleting it and starting again.  I had a wonderful weekend in Vermont. I got to spend time with some of the most lovely people I know.  I laughed my head off, I ate good food, I cried.

The race did not go as I'd hoped, due to GI issues and a bugger of a side stitch that kept recurring,  but I am so glad I went.  I'd been reading Running with the Kenyans by Adharanand Finn and thinking a lot about my running, and running in general.  On the flight home last night, I was reflecting on the weekend and when I picked up the book again and began to read, I found this passage: 

Perhaps it is to fulfill this primal urge that runners and joggers get up 
every morning and pound the streets in the cities all over the world. 
To feel the stirring of something primeval deep down in the pits of our bellies.
To feel "a little bit wild."   Running is not exactly fun.  Running hurts. 
It takes effort.  Ask any runner why he runs, and he will probably look at you 
with a wry smile and say, "I don't know."  But something keeps us going. 
We may obsess about our PBs and mileage count, but these things alone
are not enough to get us out running.  We could find easier ways to chart and
measure things.  We could become accountants.  No, the times and charts are
merely carrots we dangle in front of our rational mind, our over analytical brain, 
to give it a reason to come along for the ride.  What really drives us is something
else, this need to feel human, to reach below the multitude of layers of roles and 
responsibilities that society has placed on us, down below the company name tags,
and even the father, husband, son labels, to the pure, raw human being underneath. 
At such moments, our rational mind becomes redundant.  We move from thought
to feeling. Except our mind doesn't just stop.  Many runners say that they become
aware of their thoughts when they run.  All day our thoughts churn away, 
turning us this way and that, but this doesn't bother us in the slightest. 
Yet the minute we start moving away from its carefully constructed world of reason, 
into the wild heart of existence, our mind panics.  Our thoughts try to pull us back, 
to slow us down.  But like the marathon monks of Mount Hiei in Japan, 
who complete one thousand ultra marathons in one thousand days in 
search of enlightenment, if we push on, we begin to feel a vague, 
tingling sense of who, or what, we really are. It's a powerful feeling, strong enough 
to have us coming back for more, again and again. 

I witnessed the raw, stripped down human spirit this weekend.  I was stripped raw somewhere around mile 11, feeling all sorts of things yet nothing specific enough to understand.  I was ill, physically, and wounded emotionally - and after the race, I learned that others had similar (and worse) experiences, as well. 

Yet after we'd all showered and reconvened for lunch, we moved ahead and joked and laughed and planned our next adventures.  

Running is different things to different people.  I'm not sure I've yet discovered what running actually is for me - but I know that it is in me, and I am better for it. 


  1. That's such a great quote. Funny, someone asked me why I run at the RNR BK expo and I was at a loss as well.

    I'm so sorry your race didn't go as you wanted it to, but I'm glad you're looking at the positive!

    1. I usually answer "because it's fun!" But that's so not true. LOL

  2. :) Great passage, Diana. Running is many things. Sometimes my companion, sometimes my nemesis, my way to triumph, or what knocks me down. It's the time of day when I get to focus on doing just one thing. Just one simple, natural thing. I've felt so many emotions when running, some that I don't think words have been created for. But, it's always easier for me to answer what I think about running, than rather how I feel about running, or when running. -kara

  3. I'm sorry that your race didn't go as well as you had hoped - but...I'm so happy that you ran it and finished!!! I'm glad that running is part of your life!
    And, hooray for the good weekend!

    1. I'm happy that I finished, too - and I think I may have learned a few things about my fueling needs and staying hydrated. Running seems to be a lot of trial and error.

  4. Love this. I may "steal" this passage. I never know how to answer the question of why do I run. -- Lori


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