Saturday, May 16, 2009

Runner's High.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results." By that definition, I am insane. I ran my second marathon, and for some reason I expected it to be easy. It wasn't. At about mile nine I began thinking to myself, "Why am I doing this? I don't have to. No one is making me. This is hard. What was I thinking?" I even questioned, "If I die doing this, would this count as suicide?"

The first eight or so miles were pretty easy. It was downhill and I wasn't expecting to see any hill until mile 14 or so. I was wrong. The rolling hills started about mile 10. And that is when I hit my wall. That is when I typically hit my wall, so I wasn't too surprised. The hard thing was that I didn't get my second wind until mile 20. So for ten miles I struggled. Normally I will get a second wind between miles 15–17, but it just wasn't coming. That is when I started questioning my sanity.

Near the end however, the miles started to seem shorter. The funny thing is, that according to my handy GPS watch, the miles were getting longer. Up until mile 16 my watch was accurate. Then all of a sudden it was off. What was going on? Was my watch inaccurate or were the mile markers for the race getting off. My conclusion is that I indeed ran not only the standard 26.2 miles, but I ran also an additional .18 mile at least. Now some people might think, "Well, you already ran for 26 miles, what's another two tenths?" It's a big deal! I could have taken two minutes off my total time.

Now this is when the insanity kicks in. As soon as I crossed that finish line, I immediately thought to myself,"Well, that wasn't that bad. I think I want to do another one." Am I thinking that it is going to be easy the next time? I don't think it will ever be easy. As I get better, I will be pushing myself harder, probably making it harder than the previous. I think this is what they call the runner's high. Although I looked that up, and there seems to be some controversy about it.

From Wikipedia:

      A widely publicized effect of endorphin production is the so-called "runner's high," which is said to occur when strenuous exercise takes a person over a threshold that activates endorphin production. Endorphins are released during long, continuous workouts, when the level of intensity is between moderate and high, and breathing is difficult. This also corresponds with the time that muscles use up their stored glycogen. During a release of Endorphin the person may be exposed to bodily harm from strenuous bodily functions after going past their body's physical limit. They may be able to keep running despite pain, and thus possibly come to bodily harm from endorphin release.
      However, some scientists question the mechanisms at work, their research possibly demonstrating the high comes from completing a challenge rather than as a result of exertion.

Whatever the case may be, I still want to do another one. It's a wonder I want to do multiple considering my thoughts during the race, but once I'm done it is rewarding. I don't know when that other one will be. I think one may be enough for this year. I will apply for St. George next year and if I don't get in, then I will take advantage of the third-time's-the-charm program and run in 2011 for sure.

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