I once compared running to hunting during a preamble before a long run. The thrust of my preamble was that when we were knuckle dragging troglodytes living in caves, we'd track our prey for miles, for days, or for weeks in order to survive. Running was borne of necessity.
I think in many ways runners are hunters. Obviously, the 'prey' we hunt has changed quite a bit as food is way too accessible to most of us these days. Maybe our prey is a 5K personal best or perhaps a Boston qualifying time.
I suppose I run because I believe there is still big game out there for me to tackle. Slaying a mongoose (aka-a 5K) is old hat. But, taking down a lion (a marathon personal best) is a totally different story.
What I'm hunting (and have been for the past 5+ years) is the elusive and enigmatic sub 2:40 marathon. This one is a beast unlike any other. I've found myself tantalizing close to knocking this one off time and again. But, I've never quite managed to do it.
Every time I hit the road these days, I swear I can smell it out there somewhere. Every run I complete, I hope will bring me one step closer to slaying the one beast that has eluded me all this time. It's a hunt that has almost taken on mythical qualities.
I'm reminded of Arthur's quest for the holy grail or Shackleton's journey across the Antarctic continent. What drove these men to such lengths in pursuit of something that likely seemed absurd to many? What is it that keeps me hunting this goal despite failure?
I think when you come close to achieving a goal, but fall short (sometimes numerous times), you almost inevitably become more driven to achieve said goal. Again, the first hunters were 'persistence' hunters. These hunters were not the strongest animals on the planet or the fastest, but they ENDURED. They wore their prey down.
I suppose I continue to hunt the 2:39 marathon because I figure sooner or later, I'm going to wear down my prey and eventually it will succumb to fatigue. If it works for tracking down a gazelle, why not a 2:39 marathon?
Succeed or fail, there will always be the thrill of the hunt and this is something that never gets old.