It’s 7:00 am and I’m sitting on the sofa sipping coffee at my parents condo at Topsail Beach, NC.  This is our usual trip at the end of every year.  It is also the time when we review our accomplishments and set our goals for the upcoming year.  Two of the main goals for 2015 are to better document our lifestyle change journey and to complete 2,015 miles running and walking (plus biking or elliptical training where 10 minutes = 1 mile) by the end of the year.

Soon, Adamy and I will be going out to mail our applications and checks for the Hinson Lake 24hr ultra.  This race usually fills up in 2 or 3 days.  We completed this event back in September and fell in love with everything about it.  Even the immense pain of completing 54 miles somehow felt good.  If we get in, my goal will be 70 miles.

Why?  Why do this to my 56 year old body?  Why can’t I just run marathons and half marathons and leave these crazy races to runners that don’t crawl at a turtles pace?  I’m really not sure.  I know it probably has something to do with the fact that I’ve never been much of an athlete.  Growing up, I was usually the kid that was picked last when sides were chosen for a game.  I was that kid that was the weakest and usually the slowest.  I never had the experience of playing ball in high school.  I just don’t know what it was like.

As I’ve aged, I’ve been more passionate about my health and fitness level.  These extreme races bring play to what I’m doing.  Yes, I’m still very slow.  When I ran my first ultra in October 2013, there were only 11 runners and I came in last.  When I finished, the only people left were the race director, two people helping clean up, and Adamy cheering me on!!  All the other runners were finished and gone.  Yet, I felt like I had just scored a winning touchdown!  (actually, I felt like I had just been beaten with a stick)

Yes, I still look at faster runners and wish that I could maybe do what they do.  But in the end, I do the best I can.  I learn so much about myself when I push my body to its limit.  I find joy when I get to spend long hours on the weekends training with Adamy.  I enjoy the people that I’ve met in the running community.

I really think I’ve finally found my play.  I guess this is why I do what I do…

It’s all play.

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Don Carpenter is a Massage Therapist and the co-owner of Angel Dolfyn Massage. He is a marathoner and ultra-marathoner. His hobbies include running, reading, listening to music, and biking. He's been married to Adamy Diaz since 1999 and since then has been adopted by 4 cats. Don's very complex philosophy is: "It's all play!"

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