Monday, December 21, 2009

Finding Further (at least a little bit)...

Today was a moment of rest and reflection for me.

I got back to my normal good doobie routine of counting those calories as I consume, making sure everything I take in hasn't been processed or messed around with unless I was the one doing the messing around! This was a change from the weekend where my long run Saturday gave me carte blanche to eat anything in my way. Diet? What diet?

I was going to do some resistance training tonight, but I thought better of it, and resolved that the rest would be quite well deserved.

The reason for the reflection and rest was due in part to a decision I made Sunday evening. Of course, I was still euphoric about being able to run close to 30k on a whim with Breakheart Dan Saturday, especially after an Autumn of feeling left out of all the Ultra Marathon training and racing everyone was doing. Prior to Saturday my long runs were in the realm of 5 or 6 miles, and as far as time on feet was concerned I wasn't really even getting close to an hour. In fact, the couple of occasions I tried to start with an ultra training run of an hour, I was usually sore in the areas that my nagging injuries were emanating from, which was the large red flag I needed to back off. Beyond that, I had been spacing out training runs each week, pushing quality over quantity. No chance to build a base, just speed work one day, and the 'long' run on the weekend of 4 or 5 or 6 miles. Peanuts.

Obviously, coming home Saturday afternoon with 18.5 miles in the bag, and 3 1/2 hours on the feet was like a gigantic gold star. If I had seen one of those decorative one's people seem to be placing on their houses these days, I probably would have asked to stop so I could rip it off (or at least get a photo next to it!). :-)

As to be expected, Saturday I was sore for the rest of the day, and Sunday I woke up to a preview of what arthritis must be like. Though, as the day lingered on, and the blizzard dumped more snow outside, I started feeling less tight and sore, and more eager to get outside to use my neglected Kahtoolas or Yaktrax. The rational side was lobbying for the rest and recovery, but the animal and impulsive child inside of me was far too vocal in this internal dialogue. Finally, the fallout of being trapped inside an apartment with two small children, as well as having to listen to the obnoxious neighbors upstairs get upset because one's children are making noise during the middle of the day... yeah... I quickly threw on my gear and headed out into the winter wonderland.

Initially I thought I could only handle a mile or two because my legs were VERY sore once they were urged to move in a running fashion, but after about a mile of crunching through the snow I started to feel slightly better. It was after dark and the snow was swirling in the wind, causing a really cool effect in the beam of my headlamp. There was also virtually no traffic, save the stray plow, and I quickly accommodated any motor traffic by hopping off the side to give them the entire road. I had all my reflective gear on and was extremely visible, but one plow driver, who I am assuming was taking nips of something more than his coffee to stay warm, decided to pull up alongside of me and proceed to explain how much of a 'jack ass' I was for 'jogging'. I just looked at him and said, 'Are you serious?', and he sped off into a driveway, yelling out the window to remind me of my alleged donkey-like nature. This quickly inspired more time outside, and 2 miles became 4, which became 6.5!

I factored in walking breaks, but my mile pace was well below 10 mins./mile, which is amazing considering I was running a relaxed pace on snow covered roads, the day after my longest run since the beginning of May!

It sounds cliche and perhaps a little silly, but I think I uncovered one of those Ultra Running secrets out in the darkness, snow, and schnapps-induced insults. I learned that even in our perceived soreness and exhaustion we can find that pace or gait or state of mind that keeps us going that extra mile. You can know what it means, or understand the principle, but until you experience it on a visceral level you can't appreciate it enough to know how to implement it when it counts. Hell, I am not even sure if it just fortuitously appears under certain conditions, but I know on this night I felt like I could.

Above all, though, back when I started this blog I wrote about wanting to earn my stripes as a trail and ultra runner, and the most important thing I have learned is that you can only earn these by doing. You can read all the books and watch all the videos, but until you are summoned to face the fear and challenge in the moment, it hardly matters what you studied.

This is true of life as well, and far too often I have lived in the realm of assumptions, idleness, and 'what if'. So much so that I had an emotional breakdown over the perceived.

Personal, yes, but in hindsight a priceless learning experience.

There is only one way to find 'further', and that is through moving, experiencing, confronting, and living.

Happy Trails, Friends. Keep moving.

1 comment:

Trail Pixie Trespas said...

Good on you Rob for finding that place! Sorry that you had a verbal spanking from the blank-minded plow person. It's already strange to many that we run at all...let alone long distances. Add the dark and snow and that's just CRAZY TALK. Best not to respond.
I ran in a snow storm once and did. A man yelled from his car "CRAZY!" I responded with "LAZY." Nothing happened but I won't do that again. it's confrontational.