One more marathon post and then we'll move on to new topics. :)
Talking about Saturday's marathon, a friend asked me what it is about running that appeals to me. My off-the-cuff response is that I like the challenge of it. I like competing in each race against myself, seeing if I can improve, pushing past what I maybe thought I was capable of. I also like the camraderie. Running has brought me so many friends and--being a writer and working alone from home--my time spent on the road with friends is kind of my "water cooler" talk time others get during their normal office day.
But I got to thinking about the question a little more and it occurred to me there's another aspect of running that appeals to me, something that's not immediately apparent at surface level. It has to do with surrender.
It may shock some of you to learn that I'm a bit of a control freak. ;) I plan, organize, and attempt to account for every possible detail in my life and running is no different. I'm religious about sticking to my training program. I record every mile, every route, every pace ran right down to which pair of running shoes I wore for a run. I truly wish I was one of those runners who just heads out the door for the fun of it, but the truth is I'm much more motivated by having goals.
So where does the surrender come in? It's in the moment. For all the training, planning, and strategizing, a large part of race day running is still a crap shoot. So much of it is out of your control. You may have hit every one of your training goals and be at your strongest but wake up race day morning with stomach cramps. The temperature may hit 80 degrees. It may be pouring rain. You may cramp up at mile 5. Or everything may go as planned. The point is, you can never know what's going to happen and, surprisingly, that part appeals to me. It's the anticipation and excitement building up over 16 weeks, wondering what will eventually happen on the one day when it all comes together. Running to me is the perfect combination of control and surrender. I control everything I possible can right up until the moment when I stand alone at the start line and then--like it or not--I'm forced to let go. To just be in the moment. I can't forsee or control what may happen in the next mile. All I can do is close my eyes, breath deeply, focus on where I am right now and hope/trust it will all work out.
The trust part is scary for someone like me who does prefer to control everything. But running gives me the chance to practice letting go, of surrendering to and accepting what my mind or body is capable of in any one moment. I like to think that I control the run but the truth is that, more often than not, the run controls me.
And that's a good thing. I think if I can work on being a little more surrendering in my daily runs, just accepting what is instead of always pushing, I may turn into one of those people I aspire to be, the ones who just head out the door for a run for the sheer fun of it.
There's hope for me yet.