Sunday Edition: Don't Call it a Comeback
Last year my relationship with running plummeted. I DNF’d two races, broke my finger on another requiring surgery, and barely crawled over the finish line before the cutoff on another. And if you look at the pictures from most of those races I look exhausted even at the start lines. After my second DNF of the year, I pretty much crawling into a hole and stopped running for 3 months. For me to stop running is a huge indicator of where my head was at. I LOVE the training side.
With the new year I figured it was time to get back into the swing of things. However, I avoided every hill possible and focused on speedwork. For me speedwork can have two effects, soul crushing anxiety or the ability to make you feel like, “King of the World”, uh Queen. We all know women rule the world.
After 6 weeks of being back into a structured plan feeling pretty unconfident about my ability to be an “athlete”, and in the midst of some other life transitions I had a personal revelation. I was giving away too much of my power. To other people, to outcomes, to goals, to all the “what ifs” in life. And so I decided to stop. Don’t misunderstand, I had to decide to stop with every decision I encountered. Right down to looking at my training schedule and asking myself is pushing thru this workout going to serve me? Sometimes the answer was yes, and sometimes it meant I just went and ran whatever I felt like doing. Ultimately running should be filling our happy buckets. Would you agree?
I was nervous though. Nervous to go into a race without having followed the plan. Nervous to walk more than run. Nervous my brain had forgotten how to focus and push. And so in the week leading up to 100 Miles of Istria, the Green Route (67k, 2441m), I gave myself permission to just have fun. Walk or run, smiling and appreciation was the goal. Also, part of choosing the 67k distance was to not have a long recovery. This race would be a gauge for other adventures later in the year.
So armed with a few hours of “My Favorite Murder” podcasts loaded on my phone, I headed to catch the bus to the start. Don’t ask me why, but I find listening to podcasts prior to races extremely relaxing and those ladies are crazy funny.
3 hours later, everyone takes off. I haven’t looked at the route too much, but know there is 5, or was it 6, up/downs before it flattens out. So with my watch covered up, I try to never look at my watch until the last 20/15K. And guys, I hit that first climb and everything just turned on. Questioning looks and everyones god damn sticks, step aside. I would like to make a suggestion, if a race is under a certain vert to distance ratio can we just say no to the wizard sticks? Anyways, personal preference.
Up, down, up, sweating profusely as I am way overdressed (and rookie move didn’t layer well), but eating like a champ and in a groove. We hit that second down which was quite technical. Basically what feels like a water run off from the road and oh my, baby giraffe legs. I have a think and can’t remember when I last ran down any sort of technical or steep terrain. Right there I accept my legs are going to take a beating on the downs.
It’s also about this time it occurs to me I’ve been hearing the same three songs over and over again. I know the playlist was much more. Maybe the songs became un-downloaded? I listened to the SAME three songs for almost 9hrs! Don’t ask why I didn’t select another playlist, I just couldn’t be bothered. Is it weird, I’m not even sick of those songs?
I’m now about 30ks in and have been ignoring the ordeal of having to pee. I just can’t wait any longer and there seems to be an opportunity. Emerging from my shrub I immediately feel terrible. I push on up the hill and make a mental note to get some solid food in me at the next aid station. When I get to the aid station they ask if I need my bottles filled and an oh fuck light bulb goes on. My bottles are basically full. I guess because I had to pee I was subconsciously not drinking, only eating. No joke I had drank maybe, maybe 300ml in the first half. Suddenly, and not surprisingly I was insanely thirsty. I drank 1L of liquids, all kinds, electrolytes, everything available between each aid station until the end of the race. That’s roughly 4L of water people! Ate copious amounts of oranges and lemons; there was nothing to satiate my thirst. And I didn’t even pee again until I got HOME. To point out the obvious I crashed, cramped, and drug myself to finish.
But no matter, I am happy to know that part of my brain still has the desire to focus, to push, and my body is willing to go along for the ride. Some old niggles did flare up and I know that’s from not being in tip top shape. Definitely need to find some technical hills to practice on and get some strength training in.
I’d be curious to hear, how many others have and how often have you switched up your training programs? Have you had one coach for a long time? No coach? Extend breaks?
You’re all bright shining stars; happy trailing!