Sunday, February 1, 2015

Mulling Things Over After a Month of 2015

The Sedona Half Marathon was the first race of 2015. The full 26.2 was cancelled due to the USFS dirt roads being impassable (or something). I found out the day before that I'd be running a half marathon instead of a full. I felt a slight sense of relief, and guilt for feeling it. I have a hearty fear for the road marathon, and I was hoping to face it and really gut out hilly road race so I could remember how to hurt. It was going to be a feet-first return to running in earnest so I could attempt to push the pace at ultras. It was out of my hands.

I left work Friday night and Kelsey and I went to a play. Something I appreciate about her is that she helps expose me to things I wouldn't normally expose myself to. I know a marginal amount of things about wine now. I put a napkin in my lap most of the time, not because I don't believe in my ability to keep food off of my pants, but because it's polite. I don't not like theater, but I don't take the time to go. She's helped me grow.

The performers were great, and the show was impressive. During the play, I marveled at the thought of a group of humans taking upon themselves to tell a story. To memorize an entire script and take the time to get it just right. It wasn't a school assignment, it was something they wanted to do with their time to express themselves. They weren't doing it for a grade or credit, but rather just because they wanted to perform for their community. I really had to ponder that for a moment to let it sink in. Nobody would know or care if these people decided to do something else with their time like drink beer or watch Netflix. There isn't anyone telling them that they're lives need to be different or creative. Have I repeated myself enough yet? Of course, I'm lame and related this back to myself and running.

elevation chart from the race website
Maybe it was because it was the eve of a race, but I thought about how these actors, choreographers, directors, stagehands, theater people didn't half-ass it. They totally whole-assed it and it was cool. I wanted to apply it to what I do. I think more about artists being totally immersed in their art because nobody remembers the artist who kind of sort of fucked around with art, and they sure as hell don't make much money for it. In my life, my "arts" are running and nursing. Nobody wants to be a half-hearted artist, no matter what their art is. The big struggle is to remember that although working for ten hours straight in a hospital for free while I pay a university out-of-state tuition for it really sucks, I'm practicing my art. Likewise, in spite of being an amateur runner who struggles with motivation, I'm not a fat kid in gym class (anymore). I've chosen these tasks to be mine. Perhaps choosing a profession that directly contributes to the comfort of others in times of distress will balance out the relatively selfish act of expending energy for the sake of running fast, or maybe it doesn't matter at all.

Even with the marathon being turned to a half, I was still nervous. I awoke every hour, wondering what time it was, hoping it was time to get up. I was happy to be a little nervous. It felt good to care. Kelsey and I hopped in the car and made it to Sedona with literally two and a half minutes remaining for her to sign up for the 10k. I dropped her off and found a parking spot, then jogged to the start to find her. In typical road race fashion, I anxiously and hurriedly got ready, then didn't know what to do with myself for the remaining minutes. The usual dance of nobody knowing what they're doing or where they're going is pretty much unavoidable.

The race itself was actually enjoyable. I held an even pace, took a couple gels, and didn't make any of the wonderful aid station volunteers look like they sat in the front row at Sea World when I snagged cups of water from them. I took off out of the corral a little fast because I started too far back. At mile 4, Ian Torrence casually strolled by to reinforce that point. Even splits and a conservative start seem to be the key when an out/back course is this hilly. 45:18 at the turnaround, 1:31 for the finish. A 12 second (ish) positive split makes me feel pretty good about the marathon attempt that never was, as do the fresh legs I feel the following day.

Kelsey knocked out a top ten finish in the 10k. She's quite a talented runner, and I hope this helps her realize that. She doesn't train in any fashion that doesn't fit her desires, and her running is improving because of it. We could all learn a thing or two from that.

I'd be remiss if I didn't thank my sponsor for the race. My employer, the Mattress Center of Flagstaff, sponsored my run and worked with my schedule so that I could participate in the event. Working there has been a great experience and helped me transition to a new town. The chance to represent a local business that has helped me in so many ways is a privilege. They've taught me a great deal about being successful with an altruistic drive to fill a need in the community. I won't get into a sales pitch about product or prices, but the only rule that's ever been impressed upon me while working there is to do the right thing. Putting people before profit has made the business successful.

Up next is the Antelope Canyon 50mile. In three weeks. Better get a long run in.

I'm starting to come to terms with the truth that I'm a dork.

For the next three weeks leading up to Antelope Canyon, I'll attempt a streak. I won't miss a day of running until the race, Even if it's an easy 30 minutes before bed. I'll still continue to swim and lift weights, but adding the challenge of doing a real run at least once a day will help get me used to a higher volume of motion.

That's all.