Cross­ing the Line

The Streak

Canadian Running - - DEPARTMENTS - By Daryl Bar­wick

The streak started be­cause my Achilles heel was my Achilles heel. I’d reg­is­tered for a spring marathon. Three weeks later I was slated to run my first 50-Miler. What bet­ter way to pre­pare than by do­ing in­ter­vals, on a track, in trail shoes? A shoot­ing pain down my foot sig­nalled there were bet­ter ways to pre­pare, and that a chronic prob­lem was now an acute in­jury.

I didn’t fin­ish ei­ther race. I didn’t start ei­ther race. The streak had be­gun.

That was over two years ago. Look out Joe DiMag­gio, be­cause my streak is at seven now. Seven races I’ve signed up for. Seven races I haven’t started.

I haven’t stopped run­ning. Far from it. I av­er­age around five runs, and 50k, a week. A few years ago, I ran for time. One or two marathons a year, with a coach, a train­ing pro­gram and a firm goal: break 3:20 and qual­ify for Bos­ton. A sub-three-hour marathon was bound to fol­low. And then life in­ter­vened. For worse, and then for bet­ter. Worse was bad. In­jury, ill­ness, di­vorce and death. Bet­ter was bril­liant. I met a won­der­ful woman. And then, against long odds, we had a daugh­ter. First-time par­ents in our mid-for­ties. We were over­come with joy.

Run­ning hasn’t left my life. I love run­ning. I crave run­ning. I just don’t know what its role is any­more. Maybe the streak of­fers some clues: in­jury knocked me out of the first two. Work cost me the 10k, be­cause I had to be out of town, so we can throw those out. That leaves four. Four races where I was healthy enough to com­plete, but didn’t even start.

There was a half-marathon I’d signed up for the day be­fore, be­cause it was a great op­por­tu­nity for a hard Sun­day morn­ing train­ing run. When I woke up Sun­day morn­ing, I couldn’t be both­ered to go. I had no time goal and I hadn’t trained for it. I searched for mo­ti­va­tion, but my de­sire, which trig­gered me to sign up the day be­fore, faded away. There was no good rea­son not to run it. But no great rea­son to run it, ei­ther. I froze, and didn’t bother rac­ing.

Then there was a marathon that I’d signed up for as a means to mo­ti­vate me to get back into shape, to have daily goals and to be work­ing to­wards some­thing. I started the train­ing, but grew to hate the long runs. I’ve al­ways strug­gled with any­thing longer than 90 min­utes. In the past, I’d fought through them. This time I didn’t have it in me for some rea­son. I wasn’t en­joy­ing them so I didn’t do them.

And there was the doozy, a 50-miler. I loved the idea of do­ing this ul­tra. My brother was at­tempt­ing the 100-miler on the same day. I wanted to share the day with him. But my daugh­ter had just been born. Ev­ery long train­ing run would mean hours away from home, and ex­haus­tion for the bet­ter part of the day that fol­lowed. I signed up and then never re­ally trained for it.

Fi­nally, there was a com­pelling 50k trail race on a beau­ti­ful course at a moun­tain re­sort. Train­ing started well. But, as race day got closer, I re­al­ized I’d rather use the time off work, and the money it was go­ing to cost to travel to visit my fam­ily in On­tario. I missed them, and wanted them to see my daugh­ter, more than I wanted to run a pretty 50k at a ski re­sort in the sum­mer all by my­self.

The ex­am­ples my fam­ily have set take some sting out of a streak of which I am not proud. My fa­ther has run for 50 years. Run­ning but­tresses his faith, fam­ily and health. In all that time I’ve known him to do just a sin­gle race. He’s never needed time or dis­tance goals. My brother has set such goals. He still does. But in­ter­wo­ven with his run­ning is his Bud­dhism. He finds mean­ing in ev­ery stride. Mean­while, I re­main torn be­tween run­ning solely for the sake of do­ing so, and chal­leng­ing my­self with goals that take me out­side my com­fort zone.

I can’t get the 50-miler out of my head. It’s com­ing up again in a few months.

I’ll prob­a­bly sign up. I hope the streak ends. Daryl Baswick lives in Sid­ney, B.C. His es­says have been pub­lished in Cana­dian Run­ning, the Globe and Mail and the Vic­to­ria Times Colonist.

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