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SkyHigh

Not everyone can be a star. This sinking feeling hits every athlete at some point. No matter how far up the ladder you climb you will always end up lower down than you would like, with a few exceptions (we have our sports heroes.) When you are a runner, you know pretty fast if you are going to be a legend or a weirdo, and even legends have a tough time proving otherwise. The incredible vast majority of us know that we are downright terrible, even running in college I know just how insignificant all of my accomplishments will be to the sport. It’s not that I suck, I don’t. I made it to run for a decent D2 university and have done well so far in the eyes of my coach and team. It’s just that the sheer hoard of runners in the nation that can pummel me is disgusting. It will always remain so, even if I improve exponentially.

So why do I do it? What madness drives a runner to the daily pain, frustration, race envy, race depression, and total mental breakdown? I myself have a tough time laying out the exact reasons, but I have come up with a few ideas. It is not some spiritual connection. No, I threw that one away years ago. It is more of a self-proclamation, I run, ergo I exist. I place myself in daily pain because I love it. I love the black tar beneath my feet, the beat up pair of rubber and plastic shoes I strap to swollen feet, and the clean air of a welcoming world outside.

There is an immense difference between racing and running, race shape and good shape. There is a mental gap between the two that must be spanned with an incredible effort and massive amounts of training. I can run incredible amounts of mileage and hit insane personal goals but still race like I did when I was hitting half the current mileage. There is a mental molding that must be in place, a preparation for the pain and the competitive endurance of that pain. Desire must be high, will must be high, and the rewards must be high. All of these may be real or imagined, as long as they exist in the mind.

So I run because I love the sheer joy and brutality of the exertion, but I race because I must. I race because the world is full of competitive people who want to see who is best. I race because society comes together and creates a buzz of enthusiasm that kicks my desire into action, which activates my will power, which promises my subconscious a high reward. Thus I race like I am nothing but a racer, and that life is the distance, the distance is my life.

Not everyone can be a star, this is known, but everyone can feel the rush of a race day, everyone can feel the buzz of a crowded road race, and everyone can stumble across the finish line feeling a little more accomplished and exhilarated by simply running life.

I know the moments of my most intense runner’s high. One was an early morning run before work, I was doing a 10 miler and was feeling like an animal for the last couple miles, with a mile and a half left it felt like was downright sprinting. Rounding the turn towards the huge old red barn that marks the .75 mile till home, I was running out of a densely wooded area and to my surprise I happened along a little coyote. I say little but this thing was probably full grown, coyotes don’t get that big. It ran out in front of me, as if it hadn’t a care in the world, and man, I kinda feel bad for what happened next.

In the full spirit of my high I roared out at it in my most bestial of sounds, a guttural scream. The thing whipped around and must have jumped four feet into the air before darting back into the woods, tail between legs.

Laughing wildly to myself I then howled my energy to the rising sun, which splashed its colors down on the horse field to my left. Amidst my growls and barks I noticed my neighbor across the street. She was grinning to my chagrin, but I gave her a wave and shouted out my good morrow. It is a Running High. You don’t care, you don’t think, the whole world blurs and melts into fabulous color and living is all you are doing. The sheer and naked joy of life washes over your soul and good god it is wonderful.




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