My Sunday run was a success. It wasn't perfect, I had a couple of unplanned stops to relieve myself. Those always frustrate me, but it happens, right? The surprise upside to the 2nd stop was then deciding, stay at a controlled slow pace or chase after the 3 guys I was out there with who are now almost a minute ahead of me. I didn't want to end the run solo, I gave chase...hard.
I have probably done about 20 runs of 2hrs 30mins or more in the past ten years of marathon training. Few of them have I walked away from feeling "okay" and feeling "not beat up" the next day. But this Sunday, despite the absurd low temperatures, I ended the last 5miles of my run like a dog off the leash. Today, I felt no worse for it.
If I told you I wasn't inspired by watching the Olympic Trials marathon race the day before, I would be a liar. Will, Jeremy, Brandon, and I were discussing the Us Olympic Trials Marathon race somewhere along the way. Then as I knew I had ground to make up, I imagined myself the 6th man in the OT race. Running a calculated faster pace to reel in my competition and get a spot on the team. After about 1.5miles I passed Jeremy and Brandon (who were left by Will who had decided to pick it up), exchanged some words of thanks and encouragement and I kept at it. Another 1.5miles later I caught Will, he was surprised and glad I had reeled him back in.
He asked "Do you have another 3 left in you?"
I said "Hell yea!"
And we stuck the fast pace until we hit 22 miles. We congratulated each other on a great effort and quickly parted ways, it was still only12 degrees by that time. It was a lot of fun to finish a run that way. Most often I have been just grinding to get the last 10-15mins finished and hating it. Not today, today was like a 17mile warmup and great 5mile tempo!
In running, I can appreciate that there are a couple of levels above my head. That greatness is an inspiration that has always been in front of me, simultaneously pulling and pushing me to new achievements. I have always looked at being "far from the best" as a built in bonus, keeps the pressure of being the one who most others expect big things from.
So, what is the inspiration for those who are the champions? The best of the best? I think the ones who keep striving to win and stay at the top level are the ones who know that Victory or any achievement becomes a memory as soon as the next newspaper is printed. As soon as the next race comes, or the talk of the next championship upcoming. So, they recognize this, enjoy the day and get ready to do it again because it is a great challenge to have repeated success or just to have the chance to compete with a field of the best.
I think they can also be inspired by those that are chasing them, competitors, training partners, or just other athletes that have the common bond of making the effort to be a great as you can be.
You need your rivals as much as you need your teammates, because without them; what would any win or medal be worth? Who would you beat to get it? Who would it matter for?
On Saturday I was amazed to see Meb Keflezighi run with all the younger challengers and beat all but one, simply inspired to see Tyler McCandless push to the front, Tyler Pennel making his surge and leading for several miles. Jared Ward's patience and strength that ultimately led him to the 3rd spot on the team. On the Women's side, Amy Cragg and Shalane Flanagan working together the whole way until Flanagan began to struggle. Seeing Desiree Linden's push into 3rd and then 2nd as the race wore on in its' later miles had me on the edge of my seat. I am continually impressed by Kara Goucher's drive, running hard stuck in 4th is a mental kick in the gut. She never backed down and I think we'll see her do amazing things still!
Seeing the emotion of these Athletes in triumph or failure reminds me: They are just like me, the numbers are different but we go through it just the same. Like they say, the struggle is real. Training for years to hopefully have a shot to run with your country's best for one of three slots into the Olympic Marathon race is a dream. I can only imagine how a runner may handle it when the outcome is sour. Many vow to come back again no matter what happens out there.
All of it is an inspiration, and makes me think "one more mile today", "three seconds faster today", "run more hills you sissy". Yeah, I say Inspiration is reflexive and cyclical, it is NOT a pyramid scheme.
Hey, I was thinkin' about it, it's 1:35am now, having sufficiently emptied my brain, I bid you a good night.