Seeking Possibilities

AJWs TaproomPerhaps because this time of year impels me to do so, I have been reflecting lately on what is possible. While I have often been accused of overly exuberant optimism, there is something about the runner’s life that feeds that sense of hope within me. As I sit here today, about halfway through my ‘off-season,’ I cannot help but look ahead to the future, a future which I have to believe is filled with promise and possibility. A future which, in spite of all the challenges and pitfalls of modern life, inspires and motivates.

Why do I do this? What is it about the present that fills me with such hope? How does the primal act of running bring this out of me so viscerally?

I believe that, as a runner, I re-invent myself every day. While the accumulated mileage on my body and the impact of age on my speed are undoubtedly part of who I will always be, each time I lace up my shoes I have the opportunity for renewal. Some days I am renewed as a dad, others days as a teacher. Some days the run seems effortless, other times it’s a slog. Kind of like life, many times I just don’t know where I am going or what I am seeking. The simple truth is, the possibility of the runner’s experience brings clarity and focus on a daily basis.

This fall, in particular, as I look ahead to a 2015 racing season that will not include Western States, there is mystery embedded in this possibility. What will the summer bring? What new corners of my mind and heart will be revealed as this next phase in my running life is unlocked?

To me the process of becoming a runner is evolutionary and fluid. Even those of us stuck in a rut with our training and racing are often inevitably forced to address questions we did not know how to ask. In the ongoing race to become more whole, at times the parts bog us down and connecting the dots becomes more difficult. The daily focus and clarity of possibility can complete the circle. In essence, that is why I run. And, the me that emerges out of the circle is who I’ll continue to become.

Bottoms up!

Anchorage Brewing Company Love Buzz SaisonBrew’s Beer of the Month

We were in Alaska in early September and I got to try a couple beers from Anchorage Brewing Company, which specialize in barrel fermentation and brettanomyces. (Check out this article for more information on brettanomyces.) They say “brett” creates complexity that rivals wine. My favorite was the Love Buzz Saison. The description says it’s brewed with “rose hips, peppercorns, and fresh orange peels. Dry-hopped in the barrel with Citra hops. Second fermentation in Pinot Noir barrels.” So, um, it’s pretty complex. If you want to try a sour, you can’t go wrong with anything from Anchorage Brewing Company.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • At this time of year, what is many people’s off seasons, are you feeling like your running world is wide open, limitless, full of possibility?
  • As you think about where running could take you irrespective of variables like age and speed, do you feel like there is still plenty of room in our sport for you to grow and expand your skills and abilities?

There are 6 comments

  1. Sarah

    AJW thank you so very much — your column started my day off in a much better direction. I have been feeling down about aging. Your perspective was just the kick in the pants — the jolt of optimism and reminder of my good fortune at being able to run–that I needed to read.

  2. Andy

    AJW — Your body may be slowing with age but your capacity for philosphical reflection appears to be reaching a new zenith. The belief that we can actually "emerge out of the circle" is probably an answer to a question we don't know how to ask, but it is consistent with the adage, "Wherever you go, there you are." And then there's the related tune oft-heard on some ultrarunners' earbuds, The Faster we Go the Rounder we Get …

  3. acalaway78agochenour

    I love it! I am way over-optimistic too. Single working Mom, tired, 35, work all night, goofy desire to be competitive…. I keep getting out the door or getting on that stupid treadmill in my dining room every day. I have already surpassed my fantasies about what is possible. I keep going because it brings me joy, I don't smoke anymore..and you just never know.

  4. sorensen123

    I felt the same way as you when I stopped caring about paying 100+ dollars for a 50K.
    I decided that in order to keep my training on track, there would need to be 3 major races a year that I could focus on.
    If I really liked the race, I do it the next year. If not, move on to the next.
    Of course the 3 races would be 100 or 100+ miles and or 24 or 24+ hours.

    From all of this, I have done Plane 100, Barkley, ATY 72 hour, 4mph Challenge, 120 of 200 miles of an incredibly hot Tom's Run, and so on.
    I really like Plane and the 4mph and plan on doing the 4mph again for the 3rd time and want to do Plane at least one more time.
    However, since this is just 1 race per year, I still have 2 more races to plan.
    Last year was a 6 day JMT.
    Next year???

    So far I have been running a lot with my dog and she just did the Kodiak 50 miler and will be running the San Joaquin 50 miler with me in two weeks. She is only 1.5 years old but is so good of a runner, I plan on doing a 100 with her in 2015 or 16.

    What I'm trying to say is, mix it up. Have fun and do the things that have always interested you but you never went for it. Personally I like a race hard enough and find it more fun not knowing if I can even finish the race, (not just how fast I can do it in).

    So go have some fun…

  5. henrybick

    Andy you may not be running Western States next year but I know your love for the race will not keep you away from the finish line and watching the race unfold.
    Henry B.

  6. nelsonprater

    I don't know how you do it, but sometimes you write exactly what I'm needing. Thank you! Ran our club's annual half marathon yesterday – step for step with a friend who had just done Chicago and wasn't up for racing a half marathon. So, we didn't run fast, or slow. I didn't wear a watch – she didn't wear her timing chip. We set a "fun-time PR" and we did sprint to beat those two "skinny girls" at the end. Running races for fun has become my new norm.

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