Tuesday, March 23, 2010

penny for my thoughts

I just recently finished reading Ultra Marathon Man by Dean Karnazes, and I have a few thoughts to share with you about this book. (Don't worry your pretty little face, I won't be spoiling anything)

Dean is an normal guy. He has a pretty sweet job and makes good money. He has a precious wife, and he loves her. He ran when he was little and in high school, but stopped at some point for one reason or another. He had a few coaches during his time that inspired him. His younger sister died in a car accident, and this changed his life.

There is nothing terribly unusual about Dean's life, and that is one of the important parts about this book. Most people can relate to Dean and the course of his life. It is the part of the book that makes you think, "well, if he can do it, so can I!"

Dean became "Dean-the-lean-mean-running-machine" on his 30th birthday. He had a sort of drunken life crisis during which he sobered up while running 30 miles and eating taco bell. After this drunken life crisis he got back into running, but got into ultra running when some dudes beat him running up a hill. He found out they were training for Western States and decided to it this himself.

Tho book chronicles all the crazy races this dude runs. And this is where my feelings about him get iffy. His pure desire to run turns into this insatiable need for extreme adventures. He does some crazy stuff like- running over 100 miles through the desert and running a marathon TO THE SOUTH POLE. what? the south pole? yes, the south f-ing pole.

But i'm not sure that an extreme seeker really puts forth the best "model" for people who want to run. He makes it seem like if you don't run 20343849037459287340958 miles in extreme heat or cold with a 500 pound gorilla strapped to your back and chopsticks up your nose then you aren't really a serious runner.

There something to be said for pushing your body. But i'm not sure pushing it to its "limits" is really what running is about. Why on earth would you want to run in subzero temperatures and almost die? How does that achieve any of all the awesomeness that comes with a perfect 6 mile run with your dog? I see the benefits and the challenge of pushing your body to see what is possible. But there has to be a line between this "extreme seeking" and seeing what our body is capable of or perhaps what our body was made to do.

I think that humans truly were born to be runners. I think its obvious in the complexity of our feet and the make-up of our muscles. I think that running through mountains and just plain running is a way of "going back to our roots" - a way of being in touch with some intangible purpose. But Dean goes beyond anything reasonable. And for some reason it irks me. It makes me feel like his need for his next adrenaline high will turn off future runners because, lets face it, how many of us are ever going to run 226.2 miles in a row? How many of us want to?

I see a joy in the possibility of a day of running- 8 hours? sounds like fun if i can train my body to where it needs to be. 50+ hours of running? no thank you. That just seems like too much.

The reason good ole dean-o just doesnt do it for me: yes he has a good story. yes i am sure he runs for other reason's other than that next extreme fix. but what he shows to the rest of the world is the reason why people think ultra runners are nuts. And thus all us cool kids who just wanna run, look like crazy people because we get lumped in the category with the deans of running.

I'm not sure if i have clearly expressed my feelings here. I just know that the feelings i have about running- like the way i felt pushing myself for 6 miles to beat the sunset while letting luna run free for most of the run- are not in sync (nsync?) with dean's. Luna feels the same way. She just told me.

ultra love

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