Well said Matt. I am a recreational runner too and I love long runs (what else can I say while training for a marathon :-) ). If I look back I am always fighting the clock, but for what reason?
Running is not about the finish, but about the running it self. As the start and finish are at the same place most of the time, running would be pointless if we only focus on the finish; We haven’t come far after 30 minutes, an hour or even two hours since we finish where we started.
Is time not relevant at all? I guess it is. For what other reason would we run? We could decide to walk instead, right? But, to finish one or two minutes earlier should not be such a big thing if we consider why we run — to have a good time. and if you have a good time while running you are a winner anyway.