Last month my Mom and Papa ran 32 miles through the woods. It took just under 9 hours and Erin and I crewed for them all day, carrying their emergency supplies from pit stop to pit stop. It was a beautiful weekend in Marquette and I was so happy to be up there with them. I was also, bizarrely enough, deeply inspired by the event.
I say bizarrely because this is not the first time my parents have executed great feats of athleticism. Both of them have ran several marathons before, Mom ran that exact same race last year, and they go running almost every single night. And though I'm incredibly proud of them, I've never really been inspired to come along for the journey. I go running with them sometimes, sure, and I've run tons of 5K's, a few 10K's, and even a half marathon. (That's the kind of passion they have: everyone in our family has become a relatively skilled runner through peer pressure alone.) But casually participating in their hobby is not the same thing as being a runner. Mom and Papa are runners.
The question is - do I want to be?
It's an open question. There is of course a lot of romance to the idea of being a runner. I've been around these guys long enough, though, to know something about the day to day practicality of what it means to be a runner after that romance fades. It means that you truly love to run, just for the sake of it. It means that you run almost everyday - that you run because you want to, not because you have to. It means that you love setting goals and hard training to meet them.
I know that you can't force yourself to be a runner - you either catch the bug, or you don't. So this is my experiment, my attempt to catch the bug. I'm going to train for a 2 hour half marathon, almost 2 minutes per miles faster than my first half marathon. Training for this race will require that I run much faster than I ever have during a race. I've mastered the "just keep swimming" approach to finish long races in long times, this is my attempt to dive much deeper into training and maybe catch the true running bug.
I'll be using a modified version of this popular training program. Modified, because I only have 8 weeks to train. Then, on November 8th, I'm going to run the half marathon at Woldumar Nature Center. I'll be excited to see if I can reach my goal. Even more than that, though, I'll be excited to ask myself: Did I catch the bug? Am I a runner now?