The Hook

“To us, it’s almost the whole thing. Racing is just this little, tiny ritual we go through after everything else has been done. It’s a hood ornament.” — Bruce Denton on training in “Again to Carthage”

Outside the time spent running, which necessarily forced me outdoors Saturday morning for a long run in a minus-22 windchill, most of the weekend was spent watching the Winter Games.

And truthfully, I should have spent more time outside doing exactly what has captivated my attention during the Olympics in 2014 and 2018.

Early Saturday, my slumber was interrupted by 3 alarms — each set to force me out of bed so I wouldn’t miss a group run. As I readied for the task, I watched the women’s biathlon in amazement.

The biathlon — a combination of shooting and skiing — requires tremendous talent, fitness and composure. Only cross country skiing comes close to capturing my fascination during the Winter Olympics.

Perhaps its the memories of time spent on the wooded, snowy trails surrounding Bemidji, Minn., where Riley and I would head to the forest shortly after daybreak for our skiing adventures — and have the forest to ourselves.

After venturing out into the cold, I met up with the group for a long run. It went well, and by the time I returned home, my thoughts turned to pancakes, eggs and bacon — and an afternoon watching the Olympics.

My alarm was set again early Sunday, not to run — but watch the men’s biathlon and more skiing. Several cups of coffee later, I was ready to run again.

As I build up my weekly training mileage, my thoughts have turned back to one aspect of marathons that make it so much fun — the training. Running with friends, long quiet runs alone, intense intervals or an easy run to shake off the cobwebs — it’s all fun. Each day gives us a chance to improve, and races help measure exactly how much.

Sure, there’s a special fondness for race day, but when I think back 10 years ago to the buildup for my first marathon, when I prepared for my first marathon, it was the training that hooked me.