I am back at it. This has been quite the week and I am feeling good for the most part and excited to be back training. I honestly didn't think I would be. Last weekend, I had thought about going up to Tahoe to run TRT 50 miler. I decided at the last minute that it was a bad idea. I needed a good long run to get my mind back in the game, spend some time with my head out in the woods, but I really didn't need the context of a race. I decided not to race and instead go on a nice long solo outing in the Headlands and Tam.
Photo by Cameron Baird
I was in a mental rut with running. I was not enjoying myself and I was not motivated after states. While immediately after I considered carrying over my enthusiasm and training into another race. I even considered doing TRT 100 just three weeks after my disaster at states. After a few days though, the reality set in that I wasn't well and needed a break. I ran when I felt like it and rested a bunch. Even when I did run, my head was not in it. I wasn't enjoying it. Since my primary motivation is enjoyment that made me feel confused, directionless and worried. What if the joy never came back? How do I go back to basics? How do I love it again? It turns out all I needed was a good long run. No training partners, no plan, no music, just my water, vespa, frs and a few gels.
So off I went into the cold misty morning last week. Since I had considered doing TRT 50 mile that same day, my vague goal was to run about 40-50 miles depending on how I felt. I climbed up Coastal and headed towards Tam. I felt like crap. I didn't want to be running. I was worried and stressed, I was not having fun. And to boot, I felt crappy. At every junction, I considered how many miles I would have if I just turned around. 3 miles, 5 miles, 9 miles in. I listened to the thoughts passing through my mind. I witnessed so much resistance on my part. My body wasn't feeling great, wasn't warmed up yet so my mind was mirroring that. See, you aren't ready to be running. See you don't feel good. You're not ready. You aren't having fun. I had just come up onto Dias Ridge and I stopped in my tracks. One of mottos has so long been: no resistance, no stress. And yet here I was stressed because I wasn't into the run yet. Resisting the way things were that moment, instead of trusting that it would change. I realized at that moment that I had somewhere along the line started putting pressure on myself to feel good right away, to feel into it right away. But the fact of the matter is, I start slow. I usually take it easy through the beginning and then rock out at the end. I am patient that way and my running reflects that. I was overthinking it all, never allowing myself to get into the moment because I was too busy thinking about getting there. I was not in the moment, I was not reflecting that philosophy and the philosophy I believe so much I have it tattooed on my wrist.
Ignore the blood, focus on the tattoo.
Amor Fati. Hic et Nunc. Amor fati is a Latin phrase coined by Nietzsche loosely translating to "love of fate" or "love of one's fate" (Wikipedia). Hic et Nunc means Here and Now. In my running, I had not been "loving my fate" or better explained, I had not been rolling with the punches, not been accepting the good and the bad as all part of the journey. And I had not been present. I can't remember where it derailed but it did. I just wasn't running with joy and love. I was running around worrying about mileage and races and paces and keeping up and feeling good all the time. I was trying to think myself into happiness instead of just being happy. I didn't realize it until that moment.
I stood there on Dias Ridge for a minute, only 9 miles into my run. I took a deep breathe and started laughing. I mean good belly laugh. I mean I had overcomplicated my most simple and precious joy. I had confounded myself so completely that I was unable to allow for the highs and lows that accompany running of these distances. I am sure that feeling is very much informed by what happened at states. There is a fear of feeling bad and not simply having it be a bad patch, like what happened at states. But that is ridiculous. Part of the joy and experience is knowing that within any long ultra run anything can happen and so much will be experienced. I had to really laugh. Running, I realized again, is simple and basic. The joy it provides is simple to have. The only barrier to understanding and internalizing that is making running more than it is. It is not inherently meaningful, not in and of itself, nor inherently meaningful to who we are. I run because I enjoy it. I love it. And in that very moment. I realized it again. I actually felt that way again.
I picked up and just ran. I had good patches and bad patches. Brilliance and bonks. I ran 40 miles and was flying down the last 3, hooting and howling with joy. I found my reconnect to the journey. I found my meaning again. I found that I was ready again for real. Deep down inside, not just telling myself that or forcing the issue. It was a good day.
And from that run, I was able to begin training again. I have been training hard this week and really enjoying myself. Pushing myself. Monitoring my mind and staying on track. As of today, I have 19 more quality days of training left before Cascade Crest 100. The race is 35 days away, but with rest days and taper days. 19 is the magic number. I plan to enjoy the big push, enjoy the challenge I have placed in front of myself to get ready to face my fear. Fast or slow, win or lose, no matter what, running should be fun. If its not, why bother?
With that. I am off for another run.