I've never been one to take money (the acquisition of money that is) very seriously. I've only worked a handful of 40 hour weeks in my life. I've never been able to justify sacrificing the value of having more free time in trade for having less debt or more money saved for the future. I put my happiness and satisfaction in the current moment ahead of perceived happiness and satisfaction in the future. I think the notion that it is our civic duty to work a 9-5 day; week in and week out; for years, is an antiquated notion that is a significant contributor to some of the ills of our society. I don't think it's a coincidence that the average American works more hours in a year than those of all but a few developed nations and that Americans are on average more overweight and more depressed (to name a couple things) than the people of every other nation on the planet (at least according to multiple studies).
OK, I've gone off on a tangent here, but the point is that I've never been able to find a whole lot of excitement in doing things primarily for the sake of earning money, and thus it comes as no surprise to me that it ended up being somewhat difficult for me to take my race in Georgia very seriously this past weekend.
I've never run a race (until this past weekend) in which my primary reason for doing the race was to earn money. This time though I decided that I would give this a go because I'm fairly broke right now and I knew I would have a great shot at winning some of the $2000 prize money up for grabs at this race.
And so this was my main focus starting the North Face Southeast Regional race on Saturday. And just as I expected it was a bit harder than normal for me to feel super excited while running. That's not to say I didn't have fun. I felt really good the entire day (except for one 2 mile stretch late in the race when I was short on calories and felt dizzy and weak and just wanted to lay down for a nap), but I kept finding myself feeling really apathetic about it. At one point the route was not marked properly and I ran about 7 miles off course. As it turned out this was a stretch of course that we were supposed to run later in the race so they improvised on the fly and just had those of us that ran this 7 mile loop in error not run it again later in the race when we were supposed to. The funny thing was that even at first when I thought that I was basically going to run 57 miles I didn't really care. More than ever in any race I've done I just felt like I was out there for a run, not necessarily a race.
On the surface this probably sounds like an unfulfilling experience, but the reality was that I really enjoyed running a race that I felt so apathetic about. It made it really easy. I was able to stop and enjoy the views in the distance a couple times and I spent more time at aid stations than I ever have in a race.
In the end I finished more than an hour ahead of the 2nd place finisher. My time (7:42) wasn't very fast at all but I was very happy with how it all went. The course was very enjoyable to run. Much flatter and more smooth than what I'm used to racing on. Although my altimiter showed over 8,000 ft. of climbing though so there certainly were hundreds of small climbs that added up after 50 miles. Also we were on singletrack the entire race. Not even one short stretch of pavement or dirt road.
In all this turned out to be a successful race in every way: Nice payday; beautiful trails; relaxing pace; my parents drove down to the race from New York; and I was only gone from home for about 36 hours!