It's time for some introspection. Years ago when I started taking Tae Kwon Do my main goal was to improve my physical fitness. Soon I found myself surrounded by people who would casually discuss things like how many boards or bricks they could break. They would recount their exploits in past tournaments -- how many fights they had won or lost, etc. Before I knew it I found myself getting into a ring to try and kick my opponent in the head more times than he kicked me. I punched, kicked, and smashed boards and bricks with my hands, feet, and head (on purpose!). Most people would find these activities quite unusual, while for me and my friends it was normal. I had become (mad scientist music playing) one of THEM.
This morning I went to the downtown YMCA for the scheduled twelve mile group run (three times around a four mile loop). As we were getting ready to take off Jon and Erin asked me if I would like to run an additional 4 mile loop. While most people would probably find a way to gracefully decline such a proposition understanding that twelve miles is actually quite daunting, I found myself with a silly grin on my face and nodded yes.
We started the first loop and Jon and I went out pretty fast. After a mile I checked our pace on my GPS and hoped I could keep it up. What I hadn't realized was that Jon was letting me set the pace. While I was trying to keep up with him, he was trying to keep up with me. We were like a runaway train and finished the first loop very quickly. After a short stop to gulp some Powerade we were off for loop number two. Again our pace was fast. In fact it was even faster than the first loop. About halfway around we were joined by Jackie who is training for the half marathon. She was somewhat faster than Jon and I, but we sped up even more to keep up with her for the rest of the loop. Now there were three cars on our train.
Jon and I waited at the Y for the rest of our group (Rick, Erin, Kris, and Maria) to finish their second loop. After they had a chance to get a drink we all left together. This time Jon and I stayed with the group at our normal long run pace. The third loop went well. Back at the Y Erin and I said our goodbyes to the others and took off on loop number four. About halfway through Erin's foot started to hurt, and I could feel the effects of my speedy loops earlier. I glanced at my GPS when we had maybe a mile left and was startled to see that we had already run a little over sixteen miles. Apparently the loops were a little longer than four miles. We toughed it out to the finish and slowly hobbled our way to our cars.
On my way home I realized that I am surrounding myself with people who casually say things like, "I'm running a 25K race on trails covered in mud so thick it sucks the shoes off your feet." Or "I'm running a 50K race on those same muddy trails, but I want to fight my way up the hills twice as many times." Or last but not least, "I ran a 135 mile race in northern Minnesota the first week of February (Hello? Have you heard of the Icebox of America?). I had to pull all of my gear and had to be concerned about hypothermia from the -40 degree temperatures and the hallucinations brought on by sleep deprivation and physical exertion."
Agreeing to the extra miles today made me realize that I was becoming (mad scientist music playing) one of THEM.