We all go through this period where we have a big race we’re training for, or a season that requires us to focus on training and all we do is run, run for tomorrow, for tomorrow’s races, for tomorrows goals and the expectations we set for ourselves. I fell into this rut, setting a goal for myself I didn’t think I would do this early in my trail running life. I’ve been running trails for years, but the ultra trail world is new to me having only dipped my toes into this murky water last year.
I managed to get into a 50 mile trail race, Lake Sonoma that will be ran in April. I’ve never ran that far before in fact 32 miles is the furthest I’ve ever ran. I have no idea what to expect let alone how to train for it, so for me I figured just run through the winter compiling as much vertical and as many miles as I could in a healthy way so as to not injure myself and destroying my chances in the race. Sadly the latter is usually the case for me as I would self destruct while training and never even get my toe to the line.
I swore that this year I would be different, training smarter and more focused than last year and last year was pretty damn good! So I worked out a training program leading up to the first week of April to my taper. I set mileage goals, weekly and monthly, climbing days, tempo days, speedwork, and long run days. I’ve been diligent and in the first month I’ve met all my goals yet, my body is beat up already. Knees are sore, legs are worked and my body is just generally tired all the time. I’ve more than doubled my mileage from last year at this time and I was feeling it. Motivation is fading.
This week I accomplished all my target mileage for the month and the week a day early leaving me to consider what to do with the extra day that I had to train. I figured with all the beating my body had taken recently I could add an extra off day and let my body recover for a couple of much needed days off to heal or I could go out for a run. But not a training run, not a run that required, demanded that I destroy myself for the benefit of achieving some goal. No, this was to go out and run like I use to not to long ago, to run for the love and fun of just running.
I ran, I ran for fun, for the pleasure, for the moment, for the love. I ran for only 10k so I wouldn’t beat myself up to much since, even easy fun running impacts the body I needed to watch it. I went out to one of my favorite places the White Mountains State Recreation Area, with literally unlimited miles of trails to run during the winter and views that suck the air from your lungs, this was my home. We left at the Wickersham Dome Trailhead in a cloud of snowmachine exhaust and loud folks who just ended their day.
Running out was magical, like stepping back in time, no cares and no worries like when we were children. I would stop and stare into the distance, Equinox would dive into the snow banks buried in powder like a submarine, popping up several feet later bouncing around like a puppy again. We played and ran forgetting the world and excepting the world around us as being all that mattered, walking up the steep climbs I could savor the views even more and watch Equinox dive in and out between the trees as he investigates invisible scents that we mortal humans would never be able to notice.
The sun worked its way across the sky weaving through the clouds as it drifted towards the horizon. Light played on the tree tops, splashed the open trail and warmed our faces in a salmon glow that enveloped every ion of how I felt about life at the moment. Taking a moment to throw reality to the wayside for the day and just exist between the seconds that tick tock our presence away managed to let me see inside those cracks that separate our work lives and the life we really want.
I’ll find a way to exist longer in this space, such a magical place that maybe someday will become all that I do, but until then I’ll escape here as much as possible as long as I remember that this place is waiting for me.