Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Into the Mist...

It's been a while since I've gone into a race with precisely no expectations other than that of a completion.  I suppose most wouldn't consider such an event a race, but since I paid an entry fee and got a shirt, it's got to be a race, right?

It's been nearly three months since my little stroll up the road with the Alabama Relief Run, and as such I figured it's about time for me to get off my lazy duff and make some sort of re-entry into the running community, even if such a return would prove to be slightly anticlimactic.  The Mountain Mist 50k appeared to be a tame enough candidate.  With this in mind, I set about a rigorous ultra-training regimen of 20-30 miles/week, and I made sure that I prepared for the rugged Monte Sano trails extensively with my 2 runs of about 4 miles on said trails.  (ow... my tongue just hurt my cheek...)

With such a monstrous fitness base, and the oh-so-pleasantly damp weather of the weeks leading into the Mist, I was only assured of one thing:  it was going to be sloppy (in many respects...)

Race day came; the miles came; the mud came; the rocks came.

And went.

I must admit that an amendment should be made to my previous statement regarding the anticlimactic nature of the run.  The truly remarkable feature of the run was how unremarkable it truly was.

In spite of what was, for some, a thoroughly salient day, I was paradoxically thrilled at the mundane sense of routine that I felt.  Make no mistake, I don't mean to say that Mt. Mist was boring; quite to the contrary, it never fails to hold my rapt attention.  Moreover, I intend no negative connotation with the word "mundane."  Riddle's blazing time, Rob's second reverse-double, several friends' PR's, perfect weather, the true fun of slopping through the mud - the list of positive attributes of the day goes on and on.

I still liked the feeling of it being just another day at the office.

Maybe it's the sense of perspective I gained from covering a few miles in October.  Maybe it's the sense of perspective I've gained from running, watching, doubling, and playing in Mt. Mist a few times before.  Maybe it's the sense of perspective I've gained from the past year and a half of various personal trials and tribulations.

Maybe it's all of it.  Maybe it's none of it.

Somewhere along the way, the fresh-out-of-high-school-cocky-thought-I-was-fast-wannabe-ultrarunner changed into something else.  I can enjoy the sport for more than I could before.  I'm by no means renouncing my naturally over-competitive nature; I simply think that I've gotten to a point that it doesn't drive everything I do running-wise.  (maybe...)

I can enjoy the running for what is.  I can still train and run fast to enjoy the competitive side of things, and I can still train to run ludicrously long events, but I can also just train to run happy.  I'm hoping to light the competitive side again soon, and I'm hoping even more that I can merge this competitive motivation with the "just run happy" motivation in ways I've never done before.  It should be exciting to see what ideas we come up with...

Congrats to all Mountain Mist racers.  This Mountain Mist stroller is still sitting back and enjoying the ride.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Irony and Contrast

Ironically, the mild temperature was a bit of a shock to the system at the start of the run.  Cold air's bite had lost some of its bark, or at least said bark was beginning to fall on deaf ears.

Pleasant conditions managed to offset a bit of a twinge in the right achilles, both of which seemed to demand attention, the greater of which receiving the lion's share of an audience.

The achilles can wait.

A few cars scattered about, some lazily puttering down the road, many waiting idly while owners tended to business elsewhere, all of them appearing to be out of place in the world through which we run.  The oddity of this sentiment was striking with realization that I, too, would board such an entity within a couple hours.

Soon enough, perhaps too soon, the run had ended, and modern life began again.

Is this what it's like to feel anachronistic?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

today's run

it was slow.  it was sluggish.  it was sloppy.

but even sans form and grace of motion,

by the end, i was happy to be out there,

and isn't that what it's all about?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Enter the Chill

I am somewhat surprised at how excited I was to get out to run this afternoon.  With the cooling temperatures, my typical m.o. is to fight the urge to climb under a blanket and take an ill-advised nap after work.

Not that I don't stay excited about running during the days.  Quite the contrary; while at work it seems to consume my thoughts, leaving me pining for "the fix."

However, much to my chagrin (usually...), by the time I've made my 15 minute drive from my office to change, the weight of the day has usually begun to hit, leaving me to fight the mental battle.  Ironically enough, the mere act of waging the internal war is usually the first act of surrender; paradoxically, not showing up to fight (i.e., not thinking about it) is typically the best way to get out the door for that first, and often most difficult, step.  Once this has been accomplished, the rest is usually a breeze.

Today, for whatever reason, I was as excited about the run when I pulled my bright blue road shoes out of the truck into the cold air as I was sitting in front of a computer screen 2 hours prior.

This bodes well, I hope.

For all to often, Winter brings the aforementioned trickery of the mind.  It's a time when we've got to remember what we know deep down as runners.  The immediate discomfort, cold, tired feelings are, more often than not, simply false alarms, another manifestation of the weakness we are eternally seeking to purge from ourselves.

We know how to push past it.  We understand how it works.  We simply need to act on that instinct.

If, as students of this eccentric activity, we can manage ourselves in such less than convenient conditions, then we'll emerge in the springtime that much more fit, ready to race, ready to push that much harder, and ready to enjoy it all the more.

...of course, all that being said, maybe the true mark of success in this situation is learning to "enjoy it all the more" while the nip is still in the air...