Saturday, February 13, 2010

Introverts and running

If you have been following my blog closely, you may or may not be surprised to hear me say that I am a introvert. I recently took a test, results were that I was 60% introvert, 40% extrovert. Not too bad. I think extroverts sound more appealing and fun, but I that isn't me. An introvert by definition is;
1. a shy person.
2. Psychology. a person characterized by concern primarily with his or her own thoughts and feelings (opposed to extrovert ).
3. Zoology. a part that is or can be introverted.
4. Psychology. marked by introversion.
–verb (used with object)
5. to turn inward: to introvert one's anger.
6. Psychology. to direct (the mind, one's interest, etc.) partly to things within the self.
7. Anatomy, Zoology. to turn (a hollow, cylindrical structure) in on itself; invaginate.

I have been reading 50/50 by Dean Karnazes. It is the story of how he ran 50 marathons in 50 days. It says in chapter 6 this, "Like a lot of runners, I am an introvert by nature. Running naturally appeals to introverts because it's a solitary activity, unless you go out of your way to make it otherwise, and it has a way of dampening external stimuli, bringing your feelings and thoughts to the fore. I feel overwhelmed in large crowds and running for hours by myself is so refreshing to my soul, whereas many people might find it mind numbing."
I am a mother of an 8 and 6 year old girls, I also have a 13 year old stepdaughter. They are involved in all kinds of activities, a different sport every season. I also help them with their daily homework and get them off to school every morning. I am also a wife, been married for a number of years and like most marriages, it isn't perfect. I don't have a "Brady Bunch marriage"I like to make my own bread, bagels, hamburger buns, re-fried beans, mini sirloin burgers....., thinking of the commercial. Well lets just say, making things from scratch is fun. I stay busy.
But as every parent knows, breaks from reality is necessary, I need to get away. I need my alone time. My 2 young children, I love them, enjoy the company most of the time, but their constant talking, screaming, fighting, you get it, makes me want to escape.
I love heading out for a long run. I like the outdoors, fresh air, I love the forest, nature, birds, trees. I love being a runner. If I am alone, nobody knows me. I am just a runner out to finish a goal. When I am finished running, I feel refreshed and accomplishment. It is a great feeling to finish a 24 mile training run or 31 mile race. How many people do you know need a 10 hour playlist on their IPOD? After I am finished, I feel ready to go back and be a mom and wife. Running makes me a better mom and wife. And a lot of parent runners feel the same way.
I enjoy running alone. Don't get me wrong, I love the company of my group of friends. They are fun, funny and I really enjoy their company. If I have a chance to run with a friend, I'd rather not turn them down.
But in my opinion, with ultramarathon running, it is necessary to run alone. Marathon runners have a lot of people around them. The Portland marathon has a participant limit of 9000 and an aid station every 2 miles or less, there is always people around. But for ultra running, the # of participants drops below 200. My aid stations are every 6 and at times, I am lucky to see another human and thrilled. I am alone in the races, so I normally train alone. I do remember one training run, last year. I was scheduled to run 24 miles on Mother's Day. My day! I just wanted to stay home and do nothing. But nope, I had to run it. I woke up way to early, 4 am. I woke up my husband and asked him what time the sun rises. I got up, realized that I hadn't baked the bread that now had been rising all night. I baked the bread and then headed up to the trail. My dog and I got up there at 6 am and started running. I did not see a single human being for 14 miles! It was only when I got down to Leif Erickson, a popular running area that I saw her and I told her that. I think that was one of my most memorable and favorite runs.
I think running alone teaches you to motivate yourself and how to deal with problems that will surface as the distance gets longer and you feel more and more exhausted. When you feel like giving up and your just in a lot of pain, you have to motivate yourself to keep going, keep moving. You also learn to listen to your own body.
However, I do know that having a running partner can be motivating to push harder, to train harder than you might if you solo and I have experience this. At a recent ultramarathon, I remember chasing my "white rabbit" or so I called him. He was an older man that I started the race with. Every so often I would see him and I would try and catch up with him. I found a lot of comfort in doing so. You know what? I finished ahead of him.
I know that every race is going to be challenging. It is always going to hurt, it will never go perfectly. If it wasn't hard, then everyone would do it. But it is hard and not everyone does it, and that is what makes it so special.

Enough said.

Oh and the picture is of my youngest daughter. When she was 4 years old, she ran her first race. She had a horrible cold and it rained extremely hard. She still wanted to compete and that little girl ran her butt off!

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