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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The loneliness of the long distance runner

I love google.

How did we ever function without it? What did we do instead; go to the library? Or, I'll do you one better, go to the bookshelf and get an ENCYCLOPEDIA???


The only "pedia" I like is wikipedia. And it states:

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner is a short story by Alan Sillitoe which was published in 1959 as part of a short story collection of the same name. The work focuses on Colin, a poor Nottingham teenager from a dismal home in a blue-collar area, who has bleak prospects in life and few interests beyond petty crime. The boy turns to long-distance running as a method of both an emotional and a physical escape from his situation.

So, now you know where that phrase comes from. I know I was curious.

After Great Bay, I was race free on the calendar until April 24th. But, I still had those pesky long runs to do in preparation for the Vermont City Marathon on May 30th. Coach gave me a 21 miler to do on Saturday, April 17th. For the first time in a while, I was going this alone. All of my go to running peeps were otherwise occupied. Christine had her Girls Inc. 5K on that day. She is the race director/organizer. In addition, she was running the Boston Marathon on Monday. I am sure she didn't think a 21 mile run 48 hours before was a good idea. As for Jeremy and John, they were registered for her race. I think Ted had to work. The only company I could get was my fully charged iPod.

I got up early in prep for a 3+ hour excursion on the open road. I looked out the window.

It was cloudy.
And rainy.

After I consumed my pre-run breakfast and wasted 30-45 minutes of time on facebook (damn you, Mafia Wars), I got myself long run ready: vaseline/body glide on chafe zones, dri-fit layers, dri-fit baseball hat, rain jacket, gu, Garmin and iPod (worn INSIDE the jacket, of course). I decided it might be a good idea to run with my cell phone too, since I would be all alone for quite a while. I even had the foresight of putting it inside a ziploc plastic bag before it went in my pocket to insure it stayed nice and dry.

Sometimes, I think I take better care of my electronics than I do myself.

The hardest thing about doing the long run is just getting started. It's even harder when you are by yourself. There is no one at your front door waiting to go with you. It's just you. You are accountable! I mean, to a certain extent, I am accountable to my coach, but I still have the final say. First of all, he's not about to show up at my house to run with me, nor should he have to. Secondly, he still gets paid whether I do the runs on my schedule or not. Finally, I am only hurting myself if I don't stick to the plan.

So off I go. And I run the whole thing by myself. Here are the stats:

4/17/2010 8:33:41 AM

Total Distance
21.00 mi

Total Time

Avg Pace

Avg Speed
6.3 mph

Max Speed
11.8 mph

Total Ascent
3437 ft

Total Descent
3637 ft

Lap 01 -- 9:33
Lap 02 -- 9:17
Lap 03 -- 9:12
Lap 04 -- 9:21
Lap 05 -- 9:25
Lap 06 -- 9:24
Lap 07 -- 9:30
Lap 08 -- 9:51
Lap 09 -- 9:38
Lap 10 -- 9:49
Lap 11 -- 9:37
Lap 12 -- 9:30
Lap 13 -- 9:44
Lap 14 -- 9:24
Lap 15 -- 9:46
Lap 16 -- 9:22
Lap 17 -- 9:25
Lap 18 -- 9:22
Lap 19 -- 9:24
Lap 20 -- 9:35
Lap 21 -- 9:13

Yes, it is a long time to be running. Yes, it was light rain the whole time. And yes, I was alone. But, all of that was okay. When something in life is important enough, you'll do whatever is necessary to do, be or have it. I really want that BQ. I really want to be in the best shape of my life. I really want to be a runner.

So, you won't hear any complaints from me.

Besides, there is a huge difference between being alone and being lonely. I believe Henry David Thoreau said it best:

“I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

I'm pretty sure that Thoreau didn't have buds shoved in his ears and an iPod blaring when he wrote that, but I think you get the point.

I look forward to pounding the pavement with my running partners again soon. But, in the meantime, 3+ hours of "me time" suits me just fine.

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