Competitive running is a deceptively solitary endeavor, primarily because it is not solitary at all. It FEELS like a solitary endeavor when you’re out on a long run all by yourself. It feels like one when your breath is running out and you’ve got no one to borrow more oxygen from. It feels like one when the feet you put in front of each other are yours and yours alone. But any runner will tell you that the physical strain and time investment involved in long distance training involves the support, patience and encouragement of the many individuals close enough to us to feel our obsession.
Now, I know there are many Quentin Cassidy-like characters out there that would like to pretend their lives revolve around running and only running, minus the secluded cabin in the woods, but those people are just fooling themselves, simply living some idyllic utopian identity that exists only in their daydreams. The rest of us know we have a slew of people to express our gratitude towards. So with that in mind, I’m going to dole some out to a handful of deserving individuals.
First and foremost, my girlfriend is clearly on the top of the list, and not for the sake of relationship brownie points, one more night not sleeping on our (non-existent) couch. She TRULY deserves my deepest gratitude. I have never had anyone in my life who has been more genuinely supportive of my interests, running or otherwise. From day one she has appreciated my training and enthusiasm for running, completely understanding the time expense involved in my daily training, not to mention the weekend races. She makes me smoothies and often has them waiting for me after nearly every run. She affirms my decisions to take days off and pays enough attention to tell me why it’s a good idea. She wakes up at 5 am on Saturdays to drive halfway down the state to watch me race. She always has her camera in hand and takes photos at every race, just so I can get all self-indulgent on the internets. She even puts up with my gentle prodding for those photos while I stare blankly at the computer screen with nothing else to do. She deals with the stress of waking her 3 1/2 year old son up so early, thereby ensuring that he’s going to have a bad mood breakdown at some point in the day, if not throughout the day. She supports my decision to spend that much MORE time doing marathon training, even taking off Tuesday nights to go run with a group of guys. She does this without so much as an exasperated tone in her voice. And this, if I thought harder about it, is only scratching the surface. Michelle does all this because….well….I think she’s batshit crazy. I suppose it might have something to do with loving and me and enjoying seeing me happy…but really, i think it’s the craziness. Regardless, she deserves the biggest vegan pie of gratitude I could ever possibly make.
El Capitan Supremo (aka Scot Sedley)
My long distance (in geography) partner in crime. We’ve known each other for…hell, I’m too tired to think about how long, but long enough to know each other for more non-running years than running years, but for some reason we both discovered our running passion at the same time. Sedley is the most interesting human specimen of a friend I’ve ever come across…if only because he has the gracefulness of a blind giraffe. But for some reason he’s pretty good at running, and puts up with the strain and suffering of the act, not just to finish races, but to finish well. It goes against everything I know about him as a person, yet still he pushes on, breaking PR’s, killing longer and longer distances. At the same time, he is a bedrock of encouragement, leaving well-rehearsed pep talks on my voicemail or pre-race text messages that psyche me up to leave the competition behind at the starting line. And I remember the day he was training on more miles than I was, compelling me to step it up and get my head back in it, only serving to advance my running that much further. Sedley is the man, sharing in my accomplishments and myself reciprocating. I look forward to giving him more opportunities to script some epic text messages and getting breathless post-finish line race recaps. TKWRT is go!
Kevin was my first psuedo-sponsorship as my in at a running store. He started out helping me with my first racing flat purchase that aided me in killing the Chicago Distance Classic 1/2 marathon. Without any prompting he had followed my race results and sent me a congratulatory text, followed by an in-store prize. Since then he has been a good friend and much needed discount on running apparel, mainly the shoes I blow through every 2 -3 months. Without even knowing me that well he offered to get me in the Saucony/Flotrack tailgate party at the XC championships here in Indiana, and subsequently didn’t hate my guts when I came down with the most horrendous stomach flu the night before and couldn’t drive either of us to the event. Since then he has offered me continuous encouragement, advice, discounts, and friendship. Is there a better “sponsorship” really?
August Fulton Spitz
My 2 1/2 year old son who is currently living in North Carolina. Though I hide it most of the time, he is my motivation for most every decision I make in life right now…and my running is no exception. While I get my life in order and tie up loose ends until I get to be with him again, he is one of the best distracting daydreams on long or difficult runs. Though he doesn’t understand much of what is going on with me right now, I want to offer him something to be proud of in the future. Even if I’m not running anymore (let’s hope that’s not the case) when I’m with him again, I hope to show him some of my accomplishments, to better understand me in the future. That’s sufficient enough motivation to get me through any number of years of pain and suffering. Ultimately, his coming into the world got me back into running in the first place, so in a way I owe all this accomplishment to him.
Tuesday Evening Running Group
For two years I’ve been racing against names, individuals I barely knew except at the finish line (sometimes already cooling off, sometimes cursing my backside), and I’ve always held a strong appreciation for their running ability as well as the motivation they offered me to get faster. Without any assistance they have made me a better runner, but now, quite spontaneously, they are now giving me that motivation to get faster in a much more personal manner, whether that is through advice, encouragement, or the very real physical training we go through Tuesday evenings. I’ve enjoyed going about this all alone for the past two years, but the camraderie and experience I’m getting now is going to pay off with much deeper satisfaction.
You didn’t think a forum could exist where people are encouraging and supportive to each other more than they are snarky and petty did ya? Admit it…hell, I didn’t at one point. Then I stumbled across veganfitness.net soon after re-entering the competitive running world. These people are awesome and have offered me endless advice and encouragement, as well as a distance ranking list to give me something to shoot for. There is a quite a range of success and experience on the forum, but namely I owe a lot to xrodolfox for his posi-demeanor, intellectualism, and encouragement – and with the deepest of gratitude to James79 for giving me a level of accomplishment to shoot for and insight from someone running at the same level I do. Y’all are just plain awesome.
Friends (and strangers alike)
As friends who knew me before I began this whole competitive running deal, the initial shock and words of appreciation given when they hear of my accomplishments are deeply internalized and the motivation gained is more than they’ll understand. They don’t understand, but all the back-patting and surprise at my race finishes keep me going stronger and stronger.
Chicago Soy Dairy (Ryan, Dan, (Keith))
To not only have a group of friends appreciate my efforts, but to recognize them through support, both verbal and monetary, is a strong expression of trust that means a great deal. Chicago Soy Dairy is putting their money where their mouth is, and though the relationship is quite reciprocal, it is still no small thing to have both the trust and logistical support of a company/group of friends. They have basically stated that they not only expect me to continue my progression, but that they trust I will. That’s an expression I don’t take for granted and plan to carry through on.
This list is by far not exhaustive. It is just a smattering of the more prominent people in my life that keep me going, whether they know it or not. This running biz is NOT easy, don’t ever let anyone tell you different. The effort it takes not only to will your tired legs to run faster and faster almost every day of the weak is no small thing. The effort it takes to wake up far earlier than you ever want, just to avoid running for hours in the afternoon heat….is not easy. It takes motivation. It takes support. It takes the prodding and encouragement of many other people outside ourselves….and for that I express sincere gratitude.
Saturday – Off (all day at a wedding shoot in Paoli Indiana)
Sunday – 1:30 of running…somewhere around 15 – 17 miles of running in 78 degree heat and on hills that lie mere miles from a ski resort, if that tells you anything about their length and grade. It was exhausting. I was supposed to run 2 hours, but the hills and heat were simply too much.
It was a weird non-routine weekend, so I won’t even bother posting Saturday’s. Sunday’s wasn’t much better.
Breakfast – Bowl of Cinnamon Harvest cereal, Hot tea
Lunch – Everything bagel with peanut butter, Soy latte, Chocolate chip/coconut scone
Dinner – Chole w/ rice (chickpeas, spices) and peas
Snacks – Bananas, vanilla almond granola cereal, Water, Gatorade