Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Self Doubt

So the sign ups were done.  It was a week before Christmas, and I realized that the training had to start right then.  Sarah scratched out a training plan on a napkin in Hawaii, took a picture of it and sent it to me.  That was the start of my 100K training cycle (which has been revised since).  We affectionately refer to it as the Napkin Plan.   The first 1/3 of my training happened through Christmas, New Years and into January while single parenting and working almost full time.  My only salvation was the fact Fridays are my day off and with the boys in school, that leaves me 6 hours to run.  I would drop them off and head straight out to the trails for my long run, finishing just in time to shower, hit Costco, and pick them up at 2:30.

Fast forward now to the present.  My husband is back, just in time.  We are 10 weeks out from Miwok and starting to get serious with some long back to back days. If I thought that running 50K was entering a whole new world, then training for 100K is entering a whole new universe for me.  This past week I ran my first 100K week, with loads of elevation.  My body has just gone into uncharted territory and I'm honestly getting really nervous.  I'm starting to have thoughts like..."I just ran in 6 days what I plan to run in 1 day...and I'm exhausted."  "I don't think I can do this."  "What in the world was I thinking?!?!"

All that running took me 13 hours and 22 minutes.  That's a lot of time on the trails.  So what do I think about while I'm out there?  How do I keep my mind occupied and my legs going?

A few weeks ago my husband and I lost a friend to a tragic ice climbing avalanche accident.  It has affected our circle of friends, and really given me pause to think about life in the "rawest" sense of the word.  Last week, even though there was a LOT going on, I cherished my time on the trails in the peace and quiet - to think, to grieve, to just be.

Running has a very spiritual component for me.   I revel in the simplicity of human movement and the wonder of the human body.  I pray.  I appreciate nature as God created it. I worship as the sun rises and the sun sets.  I see the changes of the seasons and the weather as something I am a part of, rather than something to resist and avoid.  I am filled with gratitude that I live in a place where I can run year round in lush rain forests, mud and all.

When I'm alone I listen to a variety of things when I need a diversion from my thoughts.  Which sometimes leads to more thoughts.
1) Audiobooks - Last year Unbroken kept me going for hours. This year Running for My Life is the most inspiring work of non-fiction I've "read" since Unbroken.  I'm currently listening to The Elements of Effort: Reflections on the Art and Science of Running, and War & Peace.  Yes, I figured since I have hours to spend out there, I might as well use the time to become knowledgeable on a classic that I've never taken the time to read.
2) The Bible - I have a daily devotional app that guides me through the Bible in 1 year.  Great way to start an early morning run.
3) Podcasts - UltraRunnerPodcast.com is my favorite.
4) Music - always challenging finding the perfect playlist for the occasion.  Current favorite song: I Lived - One Republic. The music video gives me chills.

For at least one run a week, I have my running buddy Sarah to keep me company.  We have been running stairs, during which time we do not talk as we can barely breathe.  But during our long run, we talk.  We catch up on our lives, plan our futures, talk about work, gardening, etc.  Really, anything under the sun.  I know I couldn't do this without her.

Last week did me in.  I am seriously having doubts I can do this.  But I cannot let those thoughts define me or I'm done.  I have to refer back to my post last year The Biggest Question: WHY. I knew there was a reason I wrote that.  Just when I needed a boost, my dear aunt in CA emailed me today telling me that they are planning to come cheer me on at Miwok.  Wow.  With support like that, I know I can do this.  Little does my aunt know, she might end up scrapping me up off the ground at the finish line :)

One of the reasons I am blogging this is to focus.  When I write, it helps me self-analyze.  Whether or not anyone reads this doesn't matter to me.  But if someone out there is struggling or at least wants to know they are not alone in this crazy ultra-running world of ours, then hugs to you. We can do it!

Monday, 23 February 2015

Back in the Saddle

Well, I'm back in the saddle.  It's been a long time since my last post, and during that time I've continued running, simply for joy and trying to maintain a base level of fitness.  Completing 2 - 50K races last season seemed like quite the accomplishment.  My first foray into the ultrarunning world.  But it took me a LOT longer to recover than I thought. Interestingly, my body recovered much faster than my mind.  I simply could not fathom entering another ultra race.  I volunteered at a few, but avoided entering anything.  I decided to start weight training again and try to achieve some balance in my body after a long season of training in one discipline.  There was a lot of work to do.

That's until Dec came along and it seemed almost all the races had moved their registration dates forward and decided to go to a lottery system.  December is NOT the time of year that I am really thinking about race schedules and training plans. My husband was away with work for a few months and I was in survival mode at home.  But, it was time to consider what 2015 was going to look like.  My friend and running buddy Sarah had identified 2 races that she wanted to do this year.  The Diez Vista 50K in Port Moody, BC and the Miwok 100K in Stinson Beach, CA.  I knew I wanted to push myself again this year, but thought maybe a 50 miler would be the next logical step, not 100K.  In a flurry of texting between Hawaii (where Sarah was vacationing) and Comox, we somehow managed to enter the lottery for both races, never dreaming we'd get in to both.  I figured I would just throw it out there, and God would decide what I was meant to do this year.

Well, we got into both races.  Diez is 3 weeks before Miwok.  I've never run more than 50K before. Tickets were booked to San Francisco, beach house accommodation was booked - all with my husband conveniently absent and unable to be a voice of reason.  What in the world was I thinking?