The following is a blog post by Sage that was featured on the running website Flotrack.org and mentioned on Runner’s World Racing News online in December 2011.
“Give and Receive”
I have a love-hate relationship with Distance Running. Honestly, our Facebook status currently reads “in An Open Civil Union,” which is a pretty accurate description of things between us now.
Sometimes we fight over our different priorities in life and blame each other for being too selfish or overly critical. I feel like she is fickle and nags. Disagreements over petty issues escalate into arguments that end in frustration, anger, and doubt about our future together.
However, at other times I can’t get enough of her and she is always on my mind. I become obsessively infatuated with her essence, her beauty, and her generosity. She brings out the best in me, and the comfort and joy that she provides is something to cherish.
In the 14 (faithful) years that I’ve been with Distance Running we’ve had to work hard to overcome the usual obstacles: The Mono, the iron deficiency anemia, overtraining, undertraining, aches, pains and fatigue. After some disastrous seasons and laced with poor race performances she has broken my heart. It is at these low points when I really start to question whether or not we should break-up. Is the time and energy commitment really worth it? Do we each get out what we put in to make things work? Is our relationship symbiotic?
Since I’ve decided to continue on with Distance Running as a post-collegiate I have started to understand that she will always remain a part of who I am, fused in my identity. She has influenced the course of my life, and sparked a passion for a unique lifestyle that doesn’t necessarily conform to the norms of society. Individual priorities and perspectives dictate our life-changing choices (a fortunate circumstance of having means and of living in a country with such freedoms!) and now I see that I have already made some major choices with her in mind. The future is uncertain, and the roads leading towards our goals and dreams meander.
So if I’m lucky enough to become an arthritic geriatric, I’ll look back on these days, the prime of my “mid-20s youth.” Hopefully I’ll smile about the challenges we faced together. Most likely I’ll loudly rant about the ‘glory days’ when she and I were young, wild, and carefree. Maybe I’ll whine about how it was just a selfish, convoluted, and reckless fling. Perhaps I’ll regret not saving for retirement?
Currently though, as we head into the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials, I see my relationship with Distance Running building momentum. What she has demanded from me she has returned in surplus. She has enriched my life with many different experiences and perspectives. Perhaps, most importantly, she has ignited a true passion – and I hope that we never lose the energy and excitement of that initial spark!
Should I be giving any relationship advice whatsoever? Definitely not! Should I give you advice on your relationship with Distance Running? Again no. You and only you can determine how your relationship is going to pan out and what your future together is going to mean. I guess I was compelled to blog again because of a reaction I had had to a recent messageboard thread on LetsRun.com about lowering the 2016 US Olympic Marathon Trials Standards. The rumor is that the men’s “A” standard will be lowered to 2:14:00 and the “B” standard will be 2:18:00. People have been talking about the pros and cons of such a change. It got me thinking about how I may never run under 2:14:00 or get my expenses paid to the Olympic Trials ever again. I also thought about all those hardworking high school and college runners who may be considering training as a post-collegiate or dreaming about trying to make it to the Olympic Trials (because that was once me). So this is what I posted on LetsRun (it might as well read the “plight of the 2:14 to 2:30 marathoner” and hopefully it can somewhat describe and clarify some of these crazy thoughts I have):
“The plight of the 2:14 to 2:18 US Marathoner: Why do you do it? You don’t do it for the money. You don’t do it for the fame or glory. You don’t even do it because you think you can make the Olympic team or beat the Kenyans/Ethiopians. So why? Why do you keep sacrificing your time and energy towards something that most of society would consider a selfish and frivolous endeavor? Why do you go to bed early on Friday and Saturday nights in the prime of your mid-twenties? Why do you run 120 miles a week in the cold wind, rain and snow? Why?
Because you can. Because through years of racing and hard training in high school and college you discovered that you had a knack for something. You achieved high enough in one aspect of your life enough to be considered as belonging to the top 1%. You decided to set the impossible goal of seeing how close you could get to your full potential in something quantifiable. And in the process you realized that you are a part of something bigger than yourself…you are a part of the depth of American distance running,
It isn’t the path that the “practical” person would take. It is a road full of risk and a high rate of failure. But in the end it doesn’t matter if you meet your ultimate performance goals because at least you tried. You took the bull by the horns and sought out on a journey that most wouldn’t dare to embark on. You believed strongly in something and decided to act upon that belief.”
So there you have it (my opinion). Don’t let the critics and haters dictate your relationships and passions because otherwise how are you going to achieve true fulfillment and find meaning in life?
Happy holidays and Run Happy!