Monday, April 15, 2013

Changes in Season

I realize that the last time I wrote anything in this space I had just finished perhaps one of the toughest races and experiences of my life as a runner.

I have been thinking about that experience, as well as this blog.

I have thought about ceasing this blog and starting something new, something more befitting of my aspirations in running.  In fact, yesterday, while showering after my run, I knew I wanted to write again, but I wondered if this space had too much history and too much personality, that my new endeavors and ideas could only exist in another space.

After rolling this idea around in my head for about the 10th time in the last month, it finally dawned on me that this couldn't be further from the truth.

As people, we all change.  Our thoughts change.  Our values change.  We are changed by the experiences we have to endure -- things that we may see coming, but mostly, and most profoundly, those we do not see.

So with this blog, I embrace the change.  Know that I am a runner who loves trails, and trails will still be a big part of the blog.  But also know that I am an ultra runner, too.  I am also a runner interested in running faster and getting stronger and improving myself as a person.  These things may show up here, too.  So, yes, I want this blog to be about trail gear, trail shoes, and trail adventures.  But this blog is going to also serve as a sounding board for speed work, road work, and other things that may not fit a 'totally trail' theme.

So where have a been since last summer?

First, I had the honor of helping a good friend of mine train and complete his first marathon.  I gave him the plan, he did the work, I taught on the run during our weekend long training runs together with regard to pacing and fueling, and then we ran together during the big day (sort of, a long story there) at the Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon.  We conquered...

I could write another three posts about this experience and what it meant for me to see one of my friends go from a prospective marathoner, to a finisher.  There was absolutely a moment during the training where I wasn't sure if he'd be able to do it, but the next weekend I did one of those coach, 'why don't we try this', and it made all the difference.  It was actually only a few weeks before the marathon, and I was mulling over the thought of talking with my friend about deferring to next year and taking a shot a doing a longer training plan.  Thankfully we never had that conversation, and now he's a marathoner!

Second, following Rockfest, I helped pace another friend for a bit of Stone Cat, and generally spent the time being around the race and not IN the race.  I learned that pacing isn't just about showing up and going along with your runner.  I also learned that as much as you THINK you know a course like the back of your hand, you really need to make sure you know what you are doing.  Again, another blog post could be dedicated to that!  In the end, I spent the day seeing people accomplish great things there at the finish line of Stone Cat, and it really made me appreciate the trail running community more.

Third, I found myself trying to be a runner on vacation in Florida and failing.  I had hoped that I'd be able to soak up the sun at Disney, and start each day running around the resort.  Instead, I found lots of late nights, lots of really good food, lots of walking around theme parks, and very little time to actually run.  It was mostly a time for family fun, and I was so very happy to have the experience of a lifetime during a very good week in Florida. 

Finally, shortly after arriving back from Florida I developed a nasty injury in my back.  I spent 6 weeks trying to figure out the injury myself - FAIL.  Then I went to my doctor, go it checked out, made sure nothing was broken, and then found my way into 6 weeks of physical therapy.  Thankfully, I found the right physical therapist for me, who was not only focused with treating the symptoms, but also FIXING the issue and teaching me how to do things to make sure I don't get injured again.  The 6 weeks of PT got me started on strengthening muscle groups and correcting muscle imbalances. 

Since 'graduating' from PT a few weeks ago, I have been thinking about what will be next.  To tell you the honest truth, I am not all that concerned.  I am signed up for the TARC 100 Miler in June, but I am not sure there is any way I can show up and cobble together an effort worth of a finish. 

Aside from TARC, I committed to do the Ragnar Cape Cod Relay with some friends from college, and am ELATED that I'll be showing up with enough fitness to do my job for the team.

Honestly, the last three or four weeks have been all about loving the run.

Four weeks ago, I forced myself to spend three hours in the woods on snowy trails, three weeks ago I ran the same course, and the trails had been ravaged with recent snow and it was hard and cold and fantastic.  Two weeks ago I ran the same course, and managed to cover 20 miles in what was likely a PR for me regarding time on trails (I was also in LOTS of pain afterwards).  Last weekend, I spent some great time running long in the dark at Lynn Woods with some of my trail friends, and then the highlight of this weekend was running a simple 12.5 mile Stone Cat loop at Willowdale with another good trail friend.

With all that said, I am learning to embrace the changing seasons of life as a runner, and, most importantly, I am learning again to simply love the run!

Happy Trails!

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