Thursday, May 26, 2011

Running, Endorphins, and Ultra-marathons

11:00:02 AM Kelsey Halling: so, I finished born to run.
11:00:15 AM Kelsey Halling: wanna do a 50 mile race when we're 27 and at our peak?
11:00:21 AM Running Buddy: duh

I don't know that we actually will.  Talk to me in 3 years.

Between reading Born to Run, running the Pittsburgh half marathon, and running a 5k with my girls from Girls on the Run, running has dominated this month.

Luckily, the wet coldness that was April and the better part of May has suddenly broken out into 80 degrees and sunshine. So with no spring, Pittsburgh has catapulted into summer. And that means running weather.  It's light out early, it stays light out late, you don't have to wear 20 layers, and you don't spend the first hour with your lungs burning waiting for your body to get numb so that you stop feeling the cold.  No, instead, you throw on a t shirt and shorts and run out of the house, and have a great time and wonder why you ever stopped doing this so much.

My favorite part of Born to Run, wasn't the crazy stories of ultra-runners (though they were inspiring), or the evolutionary evidence that homo-sapiens were in fact born to run (though that was fascinating), it was the recounting of the sheer joy of running.  Of what it feels like to reach that point of mind-body-spirit connectedness that is all consuming.  The realization that not only is running fun, it makes us better people.

Around mile 2 of last weekend's 5k, we hit another hard uphill, and the girls I was running with were starting to slow down.

 "If you keep working this hard," I said, "then you'll get endorphins, and that will feel great."

"What are endorphins?" they asked.

"Well, when your body works really hard, it releases these chemicals, called endorphins, which make you feel good as a reward for working so hard."

They nodded before one of them leaned into the hill and took off yelling "Come on, body!"

It was awesome.  We finished the race in 40 minutes.  I was so proud of them.

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