As I approach a road crossing, the fatigue hits me like concrete block. I cant run any further. I decide to sit down on the pavement and take a little rest. “Why am I doing this, I am knackered!” I say out loud. I continue to take a little breather as I sip some water and destroy a GU. I am really feeling it today. My rest continues as I hear the whoosh of the cars and trucks zoom by–a quiet lull gives me the chance to hear the wind blow and my lungs creak at the exhaustion.
Why I Run
Why am I pushing? How did I end up here? I think back to that first tentative step onto the dual carriageway. The step that looking back seemed to be a pivotal point in my running journey. I rarely look back and evaluate why I run–why did I choose to learn to run alone outdoors?
As a blind runner I could have easily just stayed within the comfort of the treadmill.
No cars to avoid, no roads to cross–just the worry of toppling from the whirring treadmill.
I still can’t answer the question of why, I just know that I did. The months spent learning a route through bumping into posts, road signs, bushes and tree branches. The decision to go for the ultra marathon distance after only running for a few months. The numerous times I would be laid out on the road calling my wife to come and find me–“just head towards the roundabout, you will see me on the road!”. The telling offs I would receive from her for pushing it that far. The running that seemed to have been forged through a difficult journey but one I had loved.
The exhilaration from training alone, the smells of being outdoors. It all started with memorizing a three-mile stretch of pavement and practicing. With each dip, lamppost and foreign object memorized and paired with distance audio cues through Runkeeper, I gained more control. On the long runs it was especially wonderful to smell the breakfast at the local hotel and then feel confident and strong that I was still out running while I could smell lunch. The memories of using the same field for a quick toilet break every Sunday, only to be told a year later when pointing it out to my wife it was someone’s front garden. It was fun to be out on my own, exploring the environment by sound, feel and smell.
Running alone had given me a great sense of independence.
All of this reminiscing was broken by a Runkeeper update. “Well I have come this far. Stopping because I am tired seemed a feeble excuse” I decided. I stood up, listened for a quiet spot in the traffic, and ran across the road. The run was back on. Feeling refreshed from my little rest I began to settle back down and think of the future. A new ultra cycle is beginning as the thought of competing in 2014 looms. The past year or so had been sprinkled with surgeries, essay deadlines and the arrival of my second son. But now able to juggle all those balls I am back on the training.
The diet is being tidied, the training more determined and regimented and the mental game of training alone solidifying.
I am entering 2014 with the thought of challenges anew, competing at the 50-mile distance on trail.
Something I have previously avoided at that distance. Mainly because who likes running hills? And underfoot can be tricky for me, but I relish the challenge and look forward to proving myself on the trail.
A foray into multi-day also looms. With the thought of running a little over 300 miles. Hopefully from the HQ of Runkeeper in Boston to NYC and finish it off with running the NYC 2014 marathon.
2014 looks bright a great year of running and hopefully an opportunity to challenge myself in ways a few years ago I never believed possible.
For more on Simon’s journey, check out the awesome video below: