Runners are mad. I spent most of my adult life believing this. People step out of their houses. They run. And then they stop.
I started running when I was 36. After several weeks of training, I discovered that my assessment was correct—runners are mad. But it’s a wonderful kind of madness.
Runners run in the dark. In the rain. In the snow. They run until common sense and every muscle screams at them to stop. And then they run some more. They run barefoot. They run up mountains. They race ten miles when the only things waiting for them at the end are sweaty clothes and some chocolate milk.
Writers are also mad. They write deep into the night. On short lunch breaks. They jot down notes on the bus. They talk to themselves. They endure endless amounts of criticism and rejection. They write for years when the only thing waiting for them at the end are a million words—most of them unread by the world.
I ran the Ogden Half Marathon last year. I trained all winter in the freezing cold. I paid $100 for shoes, and another $80 for the privilege of entering the race. At the end of the 13 miles I got a generic medal. I didn’t care. I wasn’t running for the prize at the end.
I’ve spent four years on a manuscript. I’ve poured countless hours into this story. A few months ago I got an agent and a contract. This made me very happy. Extremely happy. But as with running, I didn’t write it for the prize at the end.
Runners are mad. Writers are mad. But it’s a delicious madness.
I love a good trail run. Or a thorough sloshing through the rain. I will never forget a midnight run through the streets of Logan during a thunderstorm. These events remind me that I am alive. They remind me of what I can do.
I love when my characters surprise me. When the words flow, and I feel like I’m creating another world. When somebody reads a line that I wrote, and bursts into laughter. I will never forget the time a stranger approached me and told me that he had to pull his car to the side of the road because he couldn’t see through the tears of laughter as he listened to my book.
Runners are mad. Writers are mad.
And that is why I run. And that is why I write.
I’ll hope to see all you other mad runners at the Saratoga Springs 5k run on Saturday.