This one's for Gary...
When I started blogging, I titled this based on my experience (none) with the ultra-distances. To date, I'm quite comfortable with the rookie tag for several reasons. First and foremost, I find the elites and pluggers like me (and everyone in between, for that matter) blogging about the same set of circumstances surrounding their latest personal bests...or worsts. The heat, the terrain, the incline, the food that stayed down and the stuff that didn't. New gear. Lost drop bags. Distance does not care whether you've stumbled through one ultramarathon or 200. It is the perfect vehicle to humility.
I also still feel like a rookie for a few reasons related to my own running. Am I made for 100? How fast can I run one (a ridiculous question, in that the speedwork I did ten days ago strained my hamstrings and threatened my ability to pace for Western States, but one still wonders)? Where is the balance between running for so many hours a week and still being a well-rounded individual? If running defines a large part of me, how will I deal with it if I ever can't run due to age, injury, etc? While I want to live life to the fullest, I don't agree with that whole concept of beating the crap out of yourself just to be able to proclaim "Wow, what a life!"
Of course, there is never really a final answer as to what accomplishment really is. Gerry Lindgren was once quoted as saying "If you don't know why you run, you'll never be a good runner." I don't know if I agree with that or not, but if I find out why I run I'll let you know.
Finally, the word "rookie" was so battered around during my days with EOD MU5 that it became a constant way of reminding me that everyone has stuff to learn. Anyone who tells you "do it this way, that way won't work, I know, I know..." is full of shit. It's different every day, every run, every runner. In that sense, we're all rookie.
Sometimes the running gets control of me. Too many miles with no quality, too many times declining dessert, too many missed glasses of port. Too much doubt about my potential. And sometimes I'm in complete control, striking perfectly the line between training and living. Feeling capable, I can do it all. But not often enough. When I'm satisfied with my evolution, maybe I can change the title. It won't be because I have crossed a certain number of finish lines. It won't be if I get the hard-to-earn buckle. It will be when the balance I seek between running and the rest of my life is more defined. While I do have some long distance goals, I see a lot more 10k's in my future than ultras.
The rookie is out...Peace.
2 days ago