We’ve been home from Transrockies (TRR) for 3 weeks. I’m still thinking about the incredible experience, missing my new friends and wishing I could just live in a tent and run all day, every day. I told Kevin Houda, the event organizer, he ruined reality for me. 🙂
This is what I put in my journal as if I was writing it all down for my friend Wendie. She was hiking in Yosemite at the same time I was in Colorado and I wanted to share all of this with her. So you’re really reading my note to one of my dearest friends.
If we’re being honest, I know I have been a grumpy bitch when it comes to running for the past year and a half. NOT overt, at least most of the time. And not usually aimed at anyone but MYSELF. But I would so easily and quickly go to the negative if something went wrong, or less than perfect, instead of going to my normal optimistic/positive frame of mind. I really hope no one on the outside noticed this personality shift, but I am afraid they did.
Well, I ditched that nasty bitch on the trails today on stage 3 of Transrockies.
I have just had, for the 3rd day in a row, the best day running. Ever. This just keeps getting BETTER. I have enjoyed each and every step of each and every run so far.
I’ll set this up for you a bit, in the same way all seemed to click into place for me…
You know I have been working for two+ years to get to the point that I could endure and enjoy six days of running.
This event is 120 miles, 20,000 foot of vertical climb. At significant altitude. (Which, for inquiring minds, does make it kind of hard to breathe when you train at sea level.)
I’m in a tent village of 550 trail runners from around the world, by a perfect/picturesque lake, at Novo Guides/Camp Hale Colorado. Every single person here, from runner to volunteer is 100% supportive of, engaged with and part of the trail and ultra world. So — I’m surrounded by people who get me and my desire to run really long distances for fun and they want to do the same.
I. Am. In. Heaven.
Back track a few weeks. I had that training week from hell. By design. I had to do a big volume week to get ready for the 100 miler. So it was close to 100 mile week – which I have never done. I know that I allowed the fatigue and negative energy from that week of hard physical and mental work to cascade down about six weeks… To where I finally had a full-on meltdown and told Spencer I never wanted to run again. I think I also said things like I was selling all of my shoes, never wearing a running shirt again and un-friending anyone who posts about running on Facebook. It was pretty epic. Totally ridiculous NOW of course, but in that moment – I FELT IT. Joyless, exhausting and scary as hell. I felt apathetic.
And apathy, as you know, scares me more than ANYTHING.
So here’s where I have to be really honest with myself. If I back track a year or so, I have been caught in a low-grade, persistent comparison trap. ‘She’s thinner’, ‘they’re faster’, ‘he climbs better than I do’, I didn’t hit my pace, I barely finished that run, they logged more miles than I did this week and we’re doing the same race. Oh how I wish I could grab that time back from that grumpy-comparing-bitch that I was. I drove myself crazy. I drove Spencer crazy. I probably drove you crazy. I’m pretty sure there are some people who I have met in the past 18 months or so who think that this comparing, self-denigrating, self-loathing is my permanent disposition. It’s not… REALLY! I’m a pretty happy, optimistic person at my core.
However, when it comes to running this past year/year and a half, I have to admit that I got caught by the throat in this horrible cycle of comparing and beating myself up.
So today… Today I willingly, forcefully, ditched that grumpy, nasty piece of work in a creek as I ran. She made a big splash when she landed. I totally took her by surprise. 🙂
I was running and just sorta started piecing it all together and realized what I had allowed to happen. Realized that this was my chance, my choice, to grab my happy, joyful self BACK.
The creek was cold and swift and beautiful and was the ideal place to let that ugliness quickly and quietly wash away without contaminating anyone else in the process.
I am so happy with that choice and that moment. Goose-bumps, ear-to-ear grin and profound relief. 🙂 I felt free and light and happy and could only think over and over and over again…
‘I FOUND MY JOY AGAIN! Man. I missed her! I missed her so, so much!’
I started running for the joy of it all four(ish) years ago to lose weight, gain health and to be part of a community that embraced the lifestyle I was chasing.
I started trail running specifically because…
- There’s no judgement in trail running. If you have feet, shoes and desire to learn; SOMEONE is going to be eager to convert you to our dirty side of the world. 🙂
- You do what works for you. Period. I mean, you have to figure it out – but no one cares what or how you go about it. It takes ALL kinds. 🙂
- And you can NOT tell a trail runner by looking at them. There’s a ‘type’ that the elites MIGHT look like, but usually a trail runner is identified solely by their HEART. It’s what is INSIDE their chest and brain that sets them apart and makes them who they are.
Trail running and the ultra world seem to be full of people working to heal themselves, find themselves, grow, change — those are JUST the kind of people I want to be around.
I ran 24ish miles on Tuesday. Then climbed Hope Pass Wednesday. Stage 3, Thursday, my legs felt good when I woke up; no aches and pains. None! And even better? My MIND was excited to see what the trail was going to be like, who I would meet on the trails and what I would learn. Today was about legging out another 25 miles in the best fashion I could with some hills and rolling terrain. No time requirement, no judgement and no real plan other than I would give my best and practice what I have spent the past few years learning. I met GREAT people. I took a pictures. I just ran, with no Garmin beeping at me, no real plan, no expectations…
I just ran.
And I ran straight toward the joy I used to have in my early days of running.
She welcomed me back like a grateful, forgiving and long-lost friend.
The night before we started to run TRR, Spencer gave me his coaching brief. It usually goes something like this…
‘DO not stop and pick up rocks. No selfies. Limit the conversation – if you can talk while you’re running/hiking, you aren’t working hard enough. Eat often and plenty. Stick to the plan.’
So when he said…
‘Bets, I want you to just breathe, listen and do not respond to what I’m going to say… This week is going to change your life if you let it.’
And then he proceeded to tell me to meet people (ALL the people!), pick up heart rocks, take pictures, talk to volunteers, and just work to enjoy each and every step of the journey…
With my whole heart, I listened.
Stage 3 felt life-changing, healing, like a reunion of the happiest kind.