Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lose Yourself

It was a bit of a rough week. I've been feeling rather run-down and tired; I think I'm fighting the 3000 viruses that have been going around lately. Work was frustrating, I didn't feel like running, haven't been sleeping well, possibly hormonally imbalanced, and feeling insecure/uncertain about some things.

All of that resulted in two crappy runs, Tuesday and Friday.

This morning I went to pick up my new road shoes from the post office. I knew I was over-tired when a friendly stranger stopped me to meet my dog, and something the stranger said made me turn away and start crying. Came home and attempted to take a nap, but couldn't sleep, so I eventually got up, put on my new running shoes, and forced myself out the door in the hopes that a run would help me feel better. While putting my hair up into a ponytail, I caught my own eye in the mirror, and what I saw there surprised me. There was a spark of independence and confidence in my own eyes that I certainly hadn't been feeling. I realized that somewhere in the past few days I'd lost sight of myself.

As I started my run, I remembered Powderface42, in 2007. This was the race that nearly conquered me. I remember wanting nothing more than to sit down by the trail and cry, or sleep, or both. I remember feeling burned out after, and that weeks later I could not face a hill in a run; I was mentally and physically broken by that race. But I had finished it, and that had changed me. From then on, the phrase "If I could do that, I can do anything" echoed in my heart and mind, changing the way I thought about myself, and about whatever challenges life threw me. It gave me the confidence to go on and do more ultras, to make big life changes, and take chances that would previously have seen me paralyzed with fear. Running in general, and trail/ultra running in particular, has made me a better, stronger person, who is not afraid of challenge and uncertainty. I know who I am and what I'm made of.

My thoughts continued on as I ran today, to my various ultras, running friends, injuries, celebration, fear and overcoming. I thought of RunningMania, and how the community there has been with me every step of the way.

As I ran out of town and into the forest, the light started to dim and there was a gentle fog in the valley. Part of me wanted to just keep running into the descending darkness and mist, but I eventually turned around and came out of the forest just as it was getting dusky. 12 miles done, harder and faster than I thought I had energy for; clarity was gained. I'm still sleep-deprived and uncertain, but I know who I am and what I'm made of, and I know that in the end it will all be ok.

This is why I love running. You can lose yourself and find yourself all in 12 short miles, gaining perspective, hope, clarity, and confidence in the process. There is no better therapy, and all it cost me was $80 for a new pair of shoes.

Week Summary
Tuesday - 4 miles with the puppy
Friday - 10 miles
Saturday - 12 miles

Total: 26 miles (cut-back week)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Week Summary

It was a good week! I once again skipped a short run, so I'm missing 4 miles from the plan, but I'm ok with that!

Monday - 4 miles with the puppy
Wednesday - 8 miles, including conquering my hill!
Friday - 20 miles, trails, with the puppy. While it was tough, I'm feeling stronger than I felt in the spring on the same route. :)
Saturday - 2 hours of playing in the snow on a mountain, hiking up and running/sliding down
Sunday - 8 miles... feeling pretty trashed from Friday/Saturday, but it was ok!

Total: 40 miles

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Yeah Baby!

Moving here in 2009 was one of the best moves I could have made in regards to my running. Not only do I have endless trails to explore, with all levels of difficulty, but living at the base of three mountains means that no run is ever flat. Yes, sometimes I complain about that, but it has certainly made me a stronger runner!

There is one giant hill in particular that I have longed to conquer since I moved here. It's a mile long and quite steep. With my injury last year and the resulting loss of fitness, I had to start over again this year from scratch. I've only attempted this hill a handful of times, but it has become for me a measure of my fitness. I could never seem to run up more than 2/3 of it without taking walk breaks.

Over the past few months I hadn't attempted it at all, but my strength and fitness were increasing through my long trail runs, higher mileage, and speed work. So tonight I thought I would tackle it again and see where I'm at.

As I was approaching the hill, I remembered what a friend said to me before my 10k last week: "You won't die, run hard." Good to keep that in mind.

The journey up this hill is punctuated by distinctive white fire hydrants. There are six hydrants altogether, and I've always measured my progress by how many sections I could run. I started slowly, focused on keeping my breathing as easy and steady as possible, and headed up. Passing the first hydrant, I thought, "I don't think I'm even going to make it to the second." But I kept going, and before I knew it was passing the second. Ok, breathe, focus, keep a steady pace. Suddenly there was the third hydrant, and then the fourth. When I reached the fifth, I knew I was going all the way to the top without walking, even though I was breathing hard and my legs were burning. The last section is the easiest, since you crest the hill and it levels off a bit.

I passed the sixth hydrant, giving it a little victory tap as I ran by it, and cruised on down the other side of the hill, taking in an awesome view of the Vancouver skyline sparkling in the distance. Victory!!

I think I am more excited about running all the way up this hill than I was about my 10k pb last week. This calls for champagne!! :)