Identity Crisis

What is your running identity?

Do you jog a few times a week for fitness and mental health, but not train for races?

Are you a fast-and-short-race kind of runner?   Do you blow away the competition in your age group in local 5K's?  Maybe do Crossfit Endurance for training?

Are you a middle-distance runner of 8K's and 10K's? 

Do you believe a half-marathon is "half the pain, but all of the fun"?

Are you a Marathon Maniac?   Do you love those painful twenty-milers as you are building up to 26.2?   Are you a fan of the big-city Rock-N-Roll marathon series?

Or do you take the "road less traveled," seeking out different events like trail races and ultras?

I ask because I'm struggling to figure out what kind of runner I am. 

In the early months, I was a 5K-a-month kind of gal.   It was intoxicating to watch those minutes and seconds melt away from my time each month.   I had a yearlong string of PR's.   Then I ran my first 10K.  And. Came. In. Last.   DLF--Dead Last Finisher.  My time wasn't awful--1:03, it was just a tiny, tiny race.   I did win my age group, however.   :-)

A month later, I ventured into my first half marathon.  That distance has stuck with me as my most often raced, including three on trails.  Most of the time, I figure I can run 3.1 miles in my neighborhood for FREE, so I rarely pay to enter one.  I think 10K's keep you honest, and I've only run one or two well--it seems that those have been some of the toughest ones over the years.   Then there's the marathon.  I ran my first one in 2009--badly.  I finished on pure grit and determination on an unseasonably HOT Tennessee day.  I ran another in February 2010 well (for me).  I shaved 35 minutes off the second time around.  I ran a 3rd just for fun without much training.  I took a year off and then trained HARD for my 4th one--got a 9-minute PR and negative splits.  Number 5 was the toughest road course (Flying Monkey in Nashville) and the one where I sprained my ankle in mile 10 and limped/jogged slowly to the finish (and it was still my 3rd fastest!).   Number 6 was on a trail, and it was just ridiculous.  Mud, rain, no traction, undertrained.  It was tougher than them all added together and TWO HOURS slower than my slowest road marathon.

Then there was the one ultramarathon 10-hour endurance event Run Under the Stars.   I swore "never again" afterwards, but here it is in just five weeks , and I seem to be registered.

Now that I'm recovered from that trail debacle, I'm trying to figure out where to go from here.  I'm intrigued by ultramarathoning.  I'm totally in love with trail running.  But I have unmet 5K and half marathon goals and an amazing opportunity to work with a coach starting in July. 

There are so many race experiences I want to have, but funds and time and training do not allow for them all.  I need to DECIDE and COMMIT to what kind of runner I want to be.  

Part of me wants to just focus on running faster for a little while.  And part of me wants to just forget about times and paces and just RUN on roads and trails and really, really far. 

Yep.  It's an identity crisis.  (Not to be confused with the midlife crisis I survived--just barely--last year.)