I peaked at 24 years and 2 months, on a day I ran with unquenchable anger. That anger is not coming back, and that peak is not coming back.
In August 2012, I won the U.S. Trail 10k National Championships, setting a course record and beating Bobby Mack--U.S. Cross-Country champion and top-20 finisher at World Cross--by 1:20 (in a time that was 4 minutes faster than this year's winner, Mario Mendoza). What the hell? Looking back, I don't know how that happened. I think for a few minutes that day, I hated everyone and everything, including myself. Self hatred is a powerful performance enhancer when climbing a 20% grade.
So, as a runner, it is both factual and fair to say that I peaked. I could win another national championship, and I might. I will not win a world championship. And, either way, it doesn't really matter, does it?
I peaked at 24, and it doesn't matter.
That is a refreshing thought. It certainly removes a lot of self-imposed pressure.
And while we're at it, fuck being a "competitive endurance athlete."
Trust me, I've peaked at both compulsion and competitiveness. In college, training for duathlons, I used to have the weirdest diet and social life, all in the name of pushing out a few more watts on the next day's bike ride. Have you ever set an alarm at 2 AM to drink a pre-made protein shake? I did. For 2 years. That strangeness definitely got better in law school after I met MD, but then I was back and more compulsive than ever last October (while living 3000 miles away from MD), running 120-mile weeks and aiming for a 4-minute mile.
I'm not that good anyway.
That is not meant as a sad statement. If anything, it's liberating. Galen Rupp ran a 13 minute 5k indoors yesterday. I ain't touching that, and I wouldn't want to live that life anyway. Could I beat him on epic, extremely technical mountain trails? Maybe. But he'll always be a better "runner."
So I have peaked and am not that good anyway.
Fuck compulsion, let's have some adventures.
Athletics is a small part of my life that structures my day, which is the way I want it to be. I want to wake up in the morning next to my partner-in-crime and our puppy, go for a run, or a bike, or a mountain climb, then eat a little too much ice cream, maybe help some people when I can, and do it all over again the next day. And the next year. And onward until the adventures are extreme hammock Olympics with great-grandchildren. From here on out, it's adventuring, with less compulsion and less competitiveness (though those things will always be lurking in the background). From here on out, I hope to have one athletic goal.
I never want to reach my adventure peak.
Today: 14.3 miles on trails. Hip is feeling soooooo good! With (possibly) healing on the horizon, I wanted to write down an exercising manifesto before I get too much better. You all are awesome! Thanks for everything :)