Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Break and a Break Out

One of the lowest mileage weeks I've had in a really long time. After the Kal Haven race not going so swimmingly, I decided just to chill out and do a little thinking.

I thought about the times when I've enjoyed running the most. Some of these times were fast runs that put me on or near a podium, some weren't at all. I looked back at my first ultra, the 50k at Run Woodstock in 2009. I had never run anything near that far, and was truly just aiming to finish. After running a time of 5:46, I was elated to add ten miles to my longest run, meet some great people, and know that I had truly pushed myself further than before. I was exhausted and sore for a week. I "knew" I had performed to the best of my ability. I didn't care where I finished, but used the motivation of the other runners to squeeze the best out of myself. It hurt, but each step was a milestone.

A year later, I ran the 50 mile at Run Woodstock. It was three weeks after my first 50miler at North Country, so I was just looking to run a similar time and have a fun experience. It seemed too close to my last long effort, so I had no expectations for this event. Much to my surprise, I found myself in the lead. I kept watching the tough trail miles tick off one by one, smiling to myself and wondering if I could do one more without blowing up. Each one felt perfect- not easy, but exactly matching my abilities for that terrain and distance. I was truly running my own race, but without taking it easy on myself. This flow state has been elusive, only found in fleeting moments since then.

In retrospect, that feeling came from humility. I know I'm a runner of only modest talent, and should behave as such without selling myself short. Feeling like I "deserve" to run certain times has tainted the experience and turned me into something I'm not. I'm a whole hell of a lot of things, but a overconfident egomaniac isn't one of them.

...So there's a little content to make up for only running three times this week.

2 miles - I was curious to see if my legs survived the flat 34 mile beating, and they did. I felt great. Wasn't running fast, but enjoyed a little cruise. Still decided to rest and see what a week off felt like. I had one week left of work, and just decided to keep my nose to the grindstone. Barely thought about running until Sunday.

...six days later...

AM  - 20 miles - A great hilly run on the hills of Cannonsburg Ski and Game Areas with Jeremiah. He's been hitting the hills hard, and I got a little crash course after my 6 weeks or so of flatlanding. I had forgotten just how much I love the long climbs and singletrack. We tacked on a couple repeats of the tall ski hill before heading out for beer and cinnamon rolls.

A little short shorts Kung-Fu posing after a sweet run with Jeremiah "Docta Jones" Cataldo.

PM - 5 miles - met up with Ryan for an extra 5 miles for no good reason other than a few laughs and a quick blast up all the stairs at Kruse Park on Lake Michigan. Another great run and my first double in quite a while. Feelin' good.

Total: a whopping 27 miles, 25 of which were in one day.

I'm done with my job at the foundry. I left on a good note, volunteering to work an additional 8 hours on Saturday. I learned a great deal about myself and my work ethic. Turns out, it does indeed exist and even impressed a few people. Life is what you make it, and if for some unforeseen reason I had to go back, I'd do it and make the best of it. I have an even greater appreciation for my father, who worked his way up from shoveling sand to management to take care of our family.

Boulder is a week away now. I've made enough money to pay rent for the Summer, allowing me to be a mountain bum and work part time for the love of helping those with disabilities. Beyond the Summer? One thing at a time. I'll find a way to keep the dream alive, whatever that dream may be.
See you soon, Mount Sanitas.

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