Sunday, April 10, 2011

finding bottom at the top

I awoke this morning to pain in my legs. Probably not the best sign since I didn't run at all yesterday. It seems as though every time I have one  of my "episodes," it completely unravels me(I'm good at two things-one of them is making excuses). My ankles, knees, and calves have a dull ache to them. I'll try some running today on the trails and see how it goes.

....4 hours later...
The legs still hurt and I continue to find better things to do than go running. I love running for the exploration and observation. When my legs hurt and I'm surrounded by broken glass and dead plants, it hits the motivation pretty hard.

---4 more hours later...
Time for bed. Shit. 0 miles.
Since I won't have time to run tomorrow, this is officially the most consecutive days that I've been off running, rivaled only by my post-marathon flu/recovery. Three days is the longest I've been off running in over a year? I guess I should be pretty thankful for that.

Tuesday - 0 miles...but one hell of an unscheduled week-changer.
Nothing like a random-ass road trip with no planning whatsoever.
Hopped a plane at 6am to Boston. An unplanned trip with Jason Robillard didn't leave much time for running, but was one hell of a good time. Jason's planning a very long RV adventure with his family and needed a tow vehicle. The particular truck he wanted was located in Boston, so off we went to pick it up. 2 plane rides and a bus trip later, we met the dealer and took off in the new Barefoot Running University-mobile, a 2003 Suburban 2500, in all its glory with the 8.1L V8. I may be a Subaru driving hippie kid now, but my backwoods DNA is strong enough to still be slightly aroused by such a huge engine. From here we went to Northampton Mass, where we saw Jill and Tim, the owners of a soon-to-be opened minimalist shoe store. We talked for while and had a great time, saw the store, and shared Ideas. Jill and Tim are great people who embody this fitness/lifestyle revolution. I think they'll do great things in their community. Back in the truck for the 2 hour drive to Bear Mountain, NY, where we loaded up on authentic Mexican food(not sure why) and crashed in a hotel. Being nomadic was one of the greatest feelings I've experienced. No ties to anything.

3.5 hours, unknown mileage. We awoke at 6am to for our first experience of actual mountain running, or at least we think so. a little over 3 hours in the technical singletracks gave me a whole new appreciation for the word "technical." I'm sure the distance we covered in that 3 hours was nowhere near my normal 3 hour run distance. The climb to the first peak took about 25 minutes. I felt like a child in a playground. Jumping over rocks and skipping over the jagged stones on the trail. We'd run until we were exhausted, stop to take in a view, and run some more, just the way I felt when I was a child. We were so eager to keep climbing that we only stopped long enough to slug down some more water and take a breath. It reminded me of watching kids play tag. They run as hard as they can, stop when they're tired, repeat. Jason and I were not only in a euphoric state from this run, but also basking in the life affirming situation we both are in. We loved that moment in time so much, and knew that we're both on our way to being able to live the lives we want, lives where we can experience this much more often. The only way that I can describe the way I felt is to talk about my youth again. Ever been to an amusement park at a young age? Remember never wanting it to end? That's what it felt like-that indescribable feeling, on that washes over you that seems to be made of several emotions.
I think this climb was around 1100 feet in .25 miles...whatever that means. I have no reference for mountain running and avoid numbers like the plague.

It's funny how pensive and incoherent can look the same.

Too bad we had no idea where we were going, or how far. It was a great feeling.
0- big surprise. Contemplated running, but my body had other plans. Upon my arrival back in Kalamazoo, I slept nearly 15 straight hours, then awoke only briefly to go to class and buy cold medicine. Down for the count. Congestion, phlegm, even some rather nasty projectile...never mind. I was down for the count. Perhaps my lingering sickness form earlier in the week was my body attempting to fight off the infection, and the combination of flight, travel, sleep deprivation, and a 3.5 hour run(not to mention an absolutely atrocious "road trip" diet) finally weakened my defences.

...why am I bothering to post? I didn't run again today. I attended class and travelled home to see family and celebrate my brother's birthday. Loaded myself full of enough dayquil and Redbull to be able to interact with people, then went to bed.

...Back to my roots. I was yet again unable to run, but was feeling good enough for moderate ambulation around my house. Some chores at home, some wood cutting, worked on a couple cars with my dad, and sat in the front yard in the grass. I had an overwhelming urge to be outside, even though I wasn't able to be running. So there I sat, with my gigantic polar bear-sized golden retriever and a library copy of Dharma Bums. Library books are cool- in a 20 year old copy of a book, you can see which passages meant the most to past readers. Seeing the minute contributions of other students makes the reading that much more powerful, as if we are reading the book together. Ben, the aforementioned giant dog, grew tired of being used as a pillow, so we went for a walk.

Trying to sleep this godforsaken cold away. 12 more hours of uninterrupted sleep. I awoke in time to do some laundry and drive back to school. Here I sit.

Total 3.5 hours - at least it was the most enjoyable run of my life, I may as well give it its own week.
My worst week of running in nearly 3 years. Just when things were starting to look good for the summer, all seems to be lost. My boredom needed pacification. What better to cure boredom than the necessary rebuilding of my fitness. One of my lonely talents is the ability to crawl my way back from setbacks, and it seems to be time to employ that. Onward and upward,  back to the upper levels of mediocrity!



  1. was that 1,100 ft over 0.25 miles, or 1,100ft over 25 miles, or 11,000ft in 25 miles, or 1,100 ft over 2.5 miles? Just trying to figure how steep your mountain was.. I think I worked out that 1,100ft over 0.25 is pretty much vertical.. :)

    Great run though. Good prep for Boulder..

  2. Oh, Kate. You know I love exaggerating. I've been told 3 billion times to stop exaggerating.

  3. that looks like some juicy trail running there, though. at the very least, i hope it feels like a week of shitty-ness is still worth an unbeatable day out on some new terrain! get well, duder! these changes of season are brutal. it's just a constant struggle to stay healthy, ain't it?

  4. Words of truth, P. Im lucky I ran semi-consistently over the winter, or else I'd be in rough shape as I try to coast through this sick season. The one run I did was pretty life-affirming, so I'll take it.