This blog has MOVED!

Please visit for the most updated content. All these posts and more can be found over at the new URL.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I hate why questions

I ran last night. In the rain and the wind, through the flooded streets and sidewalks. You see, I’m toying with the idea of an ultra marathon again. When I mentioned it this morning to S*, my co-worker, her response was “why?”.

I hate why questions.

S* and I have discussed how it seems that our brains never turn off. We are constantly thinking and evaluating and planning. My brain literally never shuts off – there’s never peace and quiet. Except……

….during the last half of a 100 miler, or a marathon, or a backpacking trip.

Then, and only then, I have peace and quiet in my brain. It’s like these events are a significant accomplishment within themselves that I can stop for ~48 hours and say “it’s a enough”. I don’t have to prove anything to myself or anyone else. It’s enough. Until my body is pushed to the limit, that peace and quiet doesn’t come.

That’s probably the best answer I can give to the question I often get: “why ride a 100 miles?”.
There’s other superficial answers I can smile and give – “I love the trails”, “The bond with my horse is amazing”, “I like riding fast” – but the truth is I never feel totally at rest unless my body is in motion and close to exhaustion.


  1. Louis Armstrong said (about jazz music), "Man, if you gotta ask the question, you won't EVER understand the answer."

    Same deal.

  2. There might be a lot of "personality trait" in that little blurb. You'd never guess (hysterical laughter) but my little brain just goes, and goes, and goes, which is why I see something of interest that I must disect in things others will take for granted, or they just don't care! Mine just won't shut off. Except. When I ride long (20+) miles, and I become blissfully focused on finishing a training lap. Then I am truly in the moment. It is good I have a cut off of 20 miles for bliss, because I don't know if we'll ever make it to 50!

    And Aarene, you got that right. My co-workers think I need to be a patient at my workplace. They don't get it when I come limping in, with a big smile on my face.

  3. The same could be said for any horse nut, who spends every minute and dollar possible all for the love of a horse. And the silliest joy cannot be understood by a question-asker, like spending hours training only to have your horse piaffe at the sight of leaping deer. If 100+ rides or running endlessly does it for you, to each her own!

  4. I have just one comment...
    Maybe you should get another horse...:)

    As far as getting peace in your head, have you listened to the fascinating RadioLab podcast about words? The idea is that our thoughts are words/language, and without language, people don't *think* as we know it. A woman who lost her language due to a stroke and then regained it described that period of time as peaceful and of being one with the world.
    I think that is why doing activities (like working with animals and playing music) where we cannot be thinking, planning, rehearsing our next conversation, and reviewing what we just did are so good for us; we are living in the moment.

  5. I think I have it easy - I know exactly what you're talking about, but my brain shuts off about 15 minutes after I get on a horse. I have hippy tendencies and I call it "living in the now."

    As a lazy creaky old person, may I suggest that you try to get in the no-thinking zone sooner, rather than try to keep going farther to get to it?


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.