Scott Jurek and Dean Karnazes are my ultra running heroes, which is kinda like saying you root for both IU AND Purdue, or the Cubs AND the White Sox. These guys are polar opposites, from their looks (dork vs. stud) to their diets (vegan vs. Paleo) to their paychecks (one wins races, the other wins endorsements).
Yet both of these guys co-exist within me — or rather, within Mii. My Running Mii.
Could you run a single step without your Running Mii? Some inner depiction of your imaginary self that’s way cooler and tougher than you really are — or at least way tougher than other people think you are? I mean, if you had to lug around the limitations other people cast on you, you wouldn’t get from your front door to the mail box.
When I went on my favorite solo run ever — a bucket list half-marathon that included a stop at my favorite bakery — both these guys came along for the ride, at least as fictional representations in my head.
The root of this run was pure Karnazes. It wasn‘t long after I read that classic scene in his book Ultramarathon Man of him ordering and then gulping down a huge gooey pizza on an all-night run that I conceived of this run, imagining how awesome it would be to consume my favorite doughnut of all time — a Heyerely’s caramel roll — without feeling a shred of guilt, knowing I’d burned up every calorie in advance.
By the time I got around to actually doing it, though, I was mostly in Jurek mode, thinking about the beauty of the run itself — and not wanting to besmirch it with anything so tawdry as a big old sugar bomb. Recalling his perspective on nutrition in his book Eat and Run, I wound up eating the peanut butter sandwich I brought along in my waist-pack, and appreciated the Christmas cookies on my bakery stop as festive holiday symbols rather than substandard fuel.
There are a lot of other runners whose traits have gone into my still evolving Running Mii, most of them much less famous. Just yesterday I was trying to summon forth my inner Sweaty Kid to uncork a dark and early run, but chickened out and wound up waiting for daylight. Every time I start fretting about the wind, I think about Ben’s middle school cross country coach, who loved to rhapsodize about the sheer joy of running in crappy weather.
If you really love to run, no matter how good or bad you are, chances are you’ve inspired somebody somewhere along the line, whether you know it or not.