Max raises an interesting question -- why do we race. This is a good year for me to ask that question. Last year I added triathlons to my routine. Instead of running a marathon each Fall, and a few races the rest of the year, I trained for my first Olympic distance tri in 2009, and completed a half ironman in 2010. Along the way I did a number of sprints for practice. I also ran the Dublin Marathon with Spencer and Max. That's a lot of racing. So, I must like racing, right? Short answer is that I'm somewhat ambivalent about races. There are things I like about races: The energy at the start, the sense of accomplishment at the finish, the elation after a day has gone well. But there are other things I don't like: the crowd scene at the start, the frustration about opportunities missed, or training errors that manifest in mile 18 . . .
The part I like, pretty much unequivocally, is the training. I like the freedom of long runs, the conversations with friends, the variety of swimming, biking and running. The reason for races is that they organize and motivate my training. Without a race to train for, my workouts lack focus. Without races, I can't measure my progress. Without a race to train for I would not have the lurking fear of the "wall" to get me up each morning for a long workout. The race is the end that motivates the means. Or is it the other way around? Training is the end, and the race is the means??