After a brief self-pitying session last Wednesday, I pulled myself together, did some yoga and later headed for a scout run with a couple of running buddies from the group, in preparation for the Ultra Intervals next weekend. That took care of any existential issues that were lingering in my mind:
Slightly neurotic Shaman: Who am I, if I don't run ultra races? Can I call myself an ultra runner, even if I never enter a race?
Tough love, pragmatic Shaman: No one f!%#& cares.
My biggest fear was, of course, losing my passion. I somehow got it all mixed up in my tired brain that running equals races, and that not jumping up and down with excitement at all the possible ultras that are coming up this spring means I must be on the road to giving up on running altogether.
It's not such an irrational fear. Losing running would be very bad. There are very few things in my life that I've felt so passionate about, few things that have lasted so long. Sure, I have (and have had) other interests: dancing, reading, climbing. But those are just flings. This, this is pure love. Few things have felt purer, more unadulterated, more constant. Running and I are star crossed lovers.
So my fear was that this pure love had turned into the late stages of a failed marriage. The disillusionment. The disappointment. The resentment. The indifference. At the same time, the insecurities: the fear of looking at oneself in the mirror and not through someone else's eyes, and not recognising oneself any more. The fear of letting go of something so familiar. Because what's out there is scary. And I've been scared of letting running go, because what else is there that I could possibly fall so madly in love with? What else could possibly define me so perfectly as a person?
Of course, these were the ramblings of a temporarily insane person, as I realised as soon as I put my running shoes on. This is not a failed marriage. On the contrary; this is the kind of marriage where the couple grows old together, always walking down the street hand in hand, even at 90. The kind of marriage that might go through some tough times, but without losing the love and respect for one another. The kind that will always be there for you to comfort you when you need it.
Running and I are growing old together. I hope J sticks around, too. Having been together for over 13 years, I still kinda like him.