Even before she starts her one-year fast from racing, Off the Couch contributor Sara Knutson has come to grasp the consequences of her action. She shares her thoughts in this post.
When the Weather.com 10-day forecast includes my race day, I start to get excited.
And if the prediction for Sunday’s weather at the Sugarloaf Marathon holds up, I’ve got the makings for a great run.
Still, I’m unusually nervous about this race.
After announcing my plan to go on a racing fast – one year without race fees or travel expenses or the joy of racing – I found the response from family didn’t match my own enthusiasm. Their hesitations and suggestions that racing could be used to raise money for charity caused me to think more about my decision.
What I’ve realized is that my choice wasn’t about racing so much as it was about luxury.
There’s no getting around it: racing is a luxury. It’s exciting and fun and promotes many of the values I believe in most, but that doesn’t make it any less luxurious. Flying or driving long distances to races is even more lavish, totally beyond comprehension for a good portion of the world’s population.
That doesn’t mean that flying or driving to races, or racing itself, is bad. It does mean that we need to recognize and treat our luxuries as such, and I had begun to take this one for granted.
Now, however, Sunday’s marathon has been transformed from a regular race into a one-shot opportunity to qualify for the Boston Marathon. If I don’t hit my mark (3:40), I’ll have to wait a full year for another opportunity.
As a result, I’ve been particularly obsessive about pre-race nutrition, sleep, and workouts. After fretting over the junk food and inactivity that accompanies finals, I gave up sweets and alcohol until after the race. I’m congratulating myself every time I fill my water bottle.
I probably won’t go out to celebrate the end of finals on Friday and instead plan to watch Chariots of Fire and conserve energy on the couch.
In reflecting on all my extra preparation, I realized that this is one of the outcomes I hoped for by giving up racing.
Suddenly, this race matters. Four months of training will end in a single 26.2- mile run, without any second chances. Whatever happens, I am not taking this race for granted.