At sixteen-years-old I found myself at a pivotal point in my career: in a barn up to my knees in horse feces, six hours a day, five days a week in the middle of the 1995 summer heat wave. It was as if the ASPCA gods were smiling down on me and saying, “Young Mariclare, let God’s beautiful creatures inside your heart.” But I did not want creatures inside of me. I had never stepped foot on a farm before I accepted the job in the stable. In fact, the closest I came to wild life was stepping foot in the dog doo left on my front lawn from my neighbor’s poodle.
Why? Why? Why? Why would you miss out on time with friends? Why would you put your body through that kind of pain? Why would you regularly get up (long) before dawn? What are you trying to prove? What are you “running from”? Who are you trying to impress? And on . . . and on . . . but this isn’t just what other people ask. This is what you ask yourself when your alarm clock goes off at 3:45 a.m. or your IT band is throbbing and you’ve got another fifteen miles or more to go. Fortunately, I recently had ten and a half hours of straight-up running to reflect on these questions and others . . . like how I got myself into this craziness to begin with.