I didn’t see the email until late in the afternoon, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go. There was going to be a speedwork run at 6. But I’d already run in the morning, and I didn’t want to overdo it. I was on the fence, leaning toward not going…
But then I thought to myself, “Uh dude? You can run twice in one day. It won’t kill you.”
Yeah, I know it’s possible and people do that. Other people. But what the hell. Go. Run. Hurry up, it’s almost time. So I drove out to Valero.
When it’s time to take off, there are 5 of us: Liza, Stefan, Elizabeth, and the guy who’s name I can’t recall. The pack is off with Liza and Stefan leading the way. I lag behind because I forgot to “acquire satellites.”
Once I get the beep, I catch up and chat with Elizabeth. She’s very friendly, but our conversation quickly evaporates. We pull up to the other guy. Thankfully, he starts up some chatter, and I leave the two of them to their conversation. Elizabeth runs at “her own pace”, and the guy is just recovering from the flu. I didn’t come here for an easy run, I came here for a speed workout! I hustle to catch up with Liza and Stefan.
I have a slight set back in that I have to ditch to perform a gastrointestinal transaction. I pop back onto the path only to see Elizabeth and the guy rolling up. I yell, “Spicy food – no bueno!” I’m not sure if they heard me or not, but I’m sure they knew what was up.
I push harder to make up the increased gap, and then I catch up…. because they turned around. We stop and wait for the other two to arrive to begin the actual speed work. The plan is one minute hard, one minute jog. Repeat 10 times. Sounds easy enough. Liza counts us down, and then we took off.
It felt awesome. I love running fast.
But I’m huffing and puffing to keep up with them. Meanwhile they are just chatting away, telling jokes! How can they still have a conversation at this intensity? They must not even be pushing! STOP!
Whew! Catch my breath. That was a really long minute. Which is weird because the following recovery minute is really shor- GO!
It’s rough going at first. My legs are trying to settle into the rhythm. It’s been awhile since I’ve run this hard. Last time I ran this hard was last week at the Alamo Ranch Meetup. I was sort of racing Christian. We pushed up the pace the last two or three miles. STOP!
He was pushing it well, but I outpaced him just slightly. I am overly competitive and want to be the fastest. Which really sucks because now- GO!
Because now I am not the fastest! But I am determined to keep up. I am determined to show that I am worthy to run with the group. I am determined to not get left behind. I try to relax. Feel my form. Remember, rapid turn over. STOP!
I relax. I feel good. I am having a great time, despite how hard this is. And after a few rounds, all I want to hear is “GO!”
We finish the speed work and head back. The “jog” back is pretty intense. It’s an effort for me to keep up so I’m trailing, listening to their conversation about their upcoming races. It amazes the races they’re doing – the big races, the “real” ultras. And this is only two people out of the group!
I think to myself how great it feels to run with strong, fast runners. I want to be fast like them; I want a 7:00 min pace to be cake, I want to run the same big races. I really admire these two runners and want to be like them. Then it occurs to me – they are role models!
Role models? Hmmm… Then it occurs to me: in my life as an artist, I’ve never had a role model. There was never someone, that I knew personally, that I looked up to. No one that I respected and admired. No one to teach me or to learn from. And after I left school, I didn’t even have any peers. It was just me, community of one. Talk about isolation! Furthermore, creating art never did anything for my competitive spirit.
But now, entering the ultra running world and joining the Rockhopper group looks to hold much more promise than my artistic life did. The people I’ve met so far are awesome runners. They run ultras on a regular basis. And they seem pretty casual about it, talking about 50 milers and 100 milers like they were 5K’s or 10K’s. And some of them are fast.
I started to think, as sad as it is, maybe I should give up trying to be an artist and just be a runner. This is a pretty radical thought for me since all my life I have identified myself as an “artist.” But, if I really wanted to be an artist, I would throw myself into it. But I haven’t. I’ve been struggling with it my whole life. I haven’t painted in… three months? I’ve been working on my art website for how long? I am however, throwing myself into this “running thing.” I run four times a week and I started this blog for crying out loud!
In the future, I will come back around to Art. But for now, I am going to focus on running. I have some new role models that I want to learn from, and there’s a lot of ground to cover.