What a Hobby Feels Like

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That shot was taken over the Clark Fork in Missoula, Montana, about halfway through my 12-mile marathon training run last week. I used to be steadfast in my commitment to never run a marathon: a half-marathon was fine, but marathons were for masochists. But my attitude began to switch last year. I was training for a Ragnar — a 200-mile relay, split between twelve people for three legs each and involves running through the night, driving around in large vans, sleeping on high school gym floors, etc.

I had one of the two most challenging runner assignments, including a significant amount of elevation gain, and I found myself more and more eager to push myself with new training goals — more elevation, more mileage — every week. Along the way, I ran a half-marathon as “training” and PR’ed, which felt amazing, but more amazing was the actual experience of the Ragnar, which provided the sort of exhaustion, pay-off, and catharsis that had largely drained away from the rest of my low-key burnt-out life. I had been researching and writing the book non-stop for six weeks by the time we showed up in Bellingham the night before the start, but then I spent the next 48 hours thinking about nothing other than the race: fueling my body, running, resting my body, repeat (plus being very present, and talking about nothing other than the race, with the other people on my team).


a scenic view of a river, with snowy mountains in the background below a partly cloudy sky



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