21 Oct

What I’ve noticed lately (had reinforced lately?) is that mostly everything is just a matter of perspective.  How hard you work (in your job or just in life), how much you have (or don’t have), how good (or bad) things are…There’s always someone with more and someone with less.  You might have to look hard to find that out, but it’s always true.  Life is just a matter of perspective.


break it down, build it back up…

I used to think I was a pretty slow runner.  Now, sometimes I feel like I might be approaching something like mediocrity.  But when I stop to really consider, I realize how impressed beginner-runner-Shme would be with present-day-runner-Shme (and how surprised, too haha).  I realize that even at my slowest, I’m still not THE slowest, that there’s always someone slower and someone faster (I mean even the elites eventually get beat by someone haha) and that even the slowest runners are still “lapping everyone sitting on the couch.”  And some days, just putting down the bag of potato chips and getting off the comfy couch is the real achievement (or maybe that’s just me…I have a serious potato chip problem…).

This weekend I ran the farthest I’ve run since Virgil.  It hasn’t even been a month since the most demanding race of my life (distance and difficulty level), but somehow I’ve felt incredibly lazy taking the time off.  On the flip side, I’ve felt incredibly justified in my lack of motivation–50 miles is a long way to go, and 50 miles on the Virgil course is pretty intense.  But for some reason I decided to register myself for Mendon 50k, back when I was having “yay I’m the greatest” moments when training was going well and I was feeling great.  So I registered for Mendon 50k thinking 6 weeks was plenty of time to recover, get in a couple of weeks of training, and then taper again (PSA: 6 weeks is NOT enough time for all three of those).  I registered anyway.  And once you are registered for a race, there’s only one thing to do: head down, grind it out.

Which became my mantra starting at about mile 7 or 8 on Sunday, all the way through to mile 17.5, my longest run since Virgil.  Loop 1 felt okay–Ron, Mike and I cruised through a quick (for me) loop, and I felt alright.  Ron left, we picked up Chris, and we carried on our merry way.  Somewhere in the middle of loop 2 of the 10k loops, I started to seriously consider calling it–my legs hurt, my hip flexors were really aching, and I was not enjoying the run (despite having a variety of great company throughout).  At one point, around maybe mile 10, Chris looked back at me and said “How you doing, chatty?”  He and Mike had been talking for most of the run, and I was doing my best to stay with the two of them, trying to stay close enough to hear their conversation, which would kind of distract me from my misery.  To be fair, I’m not always the most talkative during a run (I know, right? Me??? Not talking much??? WTF???)  But I was particularly quiet during these miles, and I got called out for it.

We finished the loop, rolled into the parking lot, Mike went home (he’d done a loop before meeting us) and I toyed with quitting.  Eric was like, “Go back out.  You need at least 1 more loop today.  Go and hike if you need to.”  And that was it.  I guess I just needed his reassurance and kick in the pants. I don’t know where I’d be without his constant encouragement and direction.  In any event, I started hiking up the road to get back on the trail, figuring I’d start the loop and could cut out if I really wanted to.  We got to the top of the water tower hill, and as we kept going, I realized that I was now committed to the third loop.  We kept going…and it was slow and blah and there was what felt like an inordinate amount of hiking.  Chris stayed with me, we talked a bunch, many times I told him to leave me and go run, he stayed anyway. I realized this is why I love trail running–because we so often stay together, even when one is stronger or faster.  I don’t know why, but I suspect it has something to do with the knowledge of the perspective–there’s always someone faster and someone slower, so you may as well just sit back and enjoy the ride with whomever you happen to be with at the time.

We finished the loop, and I realized that even though I felt really slow, it wasn’t terrible (for me).  For someone still recovering, it was actually pretty good.  And being able to mentally keep going, even though I wanted to just call it a day and go home and go back to bed…well that’s pretty important training for an ultra.  (Oh yeah, side note: All I want to do these days is sleep.  It’s becoming kind of disturbing to me…)

Monday I woke up with some pretty sore legs, which shocked me.  Talk about perspective.  There was a time when a 17.5 miler would’ve been something that I expected to make me sore.  But those days were long over [I thought].  I haven’t been sore from “just” a 17 miler in a long time.  Perspective.  Immediately after an intense 50 miler, apparently your body doesn’t handle mileage the same way.  We went to the gym (which is on the plan for Mondays), but I lifted much less than I normally would, thought I might keel over and die doing squats (my hammies are particularly jacked up right now), and did fewer repeats for all leg exercises.  Today, my legs were still sore.  I got to the group run a little early, put in 2 miles and then another 4 with the group on flat, easy trails.  They were slow, but felt pretty fantastic.  Until I stopped running.  At which point my legs reminded me that they’re tired and sore.  I was disappointed to say the least.

But even in all that disappointment, looking up at the sky, listening to the wind blowing through the leaves on the trees, hearing the leaves crunching under my feet, smelling whatever that super-sweet-smells-like-smores-to-me thing on the trails is…I realized that none of this actually matters.  What happens at Mendon is pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.  What happened at any race doesn’t matter.  Work, which has been stressing me out this whole year…pretty irrelevant, too.  Things that have been bothering me, that I’ve been worrying about…they don’t really actually matter.  Being in the moment, seeing and smelling and listening to the things around me, just letting all the cool sensory moments wash over me and loving being surrounded by amazing people who do amazing things…those are the important things.  And I am thankful that trail running gives me that perspective.



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