For years I have run and, at times, jogged walked and considered crawling, in the pursuit of health.  As I began training for the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon several months ago, I began to question my motives for running.  After all, running for 26.2 surely has little to do with health!
    Racing to nowhere on the treadmill in our basement has more often than not allowed my mind to wander in search of the reason for the running, particularly on endurance training on rainy days.  Failing to come to a reasonable conclusion, I would resort to lip-syncing through the remainder of the run, not having the breath to spare or the heart to force our neighbors to endure my off-key a cappella concert.
    A few weeks ago, I ran a 10k which was the second of three races in the Louisville Triple Crown of Running series.  It wasn't my longest race, but I do believe it was probably my least favorite race to date.  I dropped my cell phone twice in the first mile of six, scattering it's pieces in every direction while thousands of runners ran toward me thinking, no doubt, that I was terribly irresponsible.  I was in the second mile when, without warning, my ipod quit.  (I never have gotten it to work again!)  And, to add insult to injury, I was wearing the "wrong" running pants and every few steps I would either pull them up AGAIN or run the risk of losing them.  (I considered leaving them behind, but couldn't bear the thought of brutal "chub rub" on the inner thighs.)  Honestly, by the time I reached the finish line (which they seemed to have moved by the time I ran through it!) I was frustrated and had already mentally checked out of the race. 
    The Papa John's 10-miler, the third in the Triple Crown series, was run in Louisville yesterday.  The air was crisp (something I actually appreciate when running) and I was in the company of two good friends at the starting line.  We were enjoying our early morning humor and relaxing when I realized that we were just about to cross the starting my mind, a GREAT way to start the race!  I was very mindful of my overuse injuries and ran with preservation of the IT band in mind.  For the most part, the course was fairly level, though Iroquois Park offered three miles of uphill, winding twists and turns and only about 1/2 mile down. 
    Crossing the finish line felt good.  I felt as though I had run a good race...a smart race.  Though I can think of a few moments on the Iroquois Park hills that I could have pushed more, I felt that I had made the right decisions, those that will allow me to continue to train for and participate in the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon in four weeks.
    As Shonda, Carmen and I headed out of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, the answer to all of the running and race participation occurred to me.  It's more than just challenging's the camaraderie among runners.  It's the fact that runners come in so many shapes and sizes with a variety of goals and abilities. 
    "Running is not, as it so often seems, only about what you did in your last race or about how many miles you ran last week. It is, in a much more important way, about community, about appreciating all the miles run by other runners, too."
--Richard O'Brien



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