Thursday, January 20, 2011

Full moon and being seriously serious

Seriously beautiful. Alamere Falls in Point Reyes.
Fun Saturday run with friends.

My training for Houston has been serious. I have enjoyed the seriousness of it. I have done things that I am afraid of, I have been focused and committed in a way I, perhaps, have never been before. I have made sacrifices, worked very hard and am excited for race day.

Getting some serious air in Point Reyes.

Amongst all the seriousness, I have tried to not to become too serious or too wrapped up. I wanted to work hard and lift to myself to new heights, not plunge myself down into the space where the ultimate result becomes too important. I didn't want to lose myself in it all. When I decided to try and see what I could do at the marathon, my intention was to have a fun challenge, to push my limits and explore the question: how fast can I run? I define myself as someone who runs because I love it and I didn't want that to change just because I was setting my sights on the Olympic Trials. For the most part, I think I have done a good job.

My favorites on a fun weekend trail run. Nathan, me, Larissa and Brett.
Northside of Tam.

One of my strategies for keeping my perspective and my sanity is to include some fun running, some adventures and some group trail runs with my friends. In the past three weekends, I have explored the trails on my "recovery" days (Saturdays), run in some awesome places. Nathan, Larissa and Brett and I headed out the first weekend in January to run on the Northside of Tam. The folllowing weekend we headed up to Point Reyes and explore Alamere falls and followed the run with oysters from Hog Island. These runs were stout for a "recovery" day but we were out more for adventuring than hammering. It is a wonderful counter-point to hard track workouts, tempo runs and long runs that require strict focus and effort. I always wake up on Sundays looking forward to my long runs because I feel refreshed after a day on the trails. And my Sunday long runs have all been excellent, so I know that I have appropriately paced my Saturday recovery runs.

This past weekend, I was able to head down to SoCal to cheer and support my sister in her first 50 miler. I was glad it worked out for me to go because earlier in the month when I consulted my training schedule I knew it would be an important training week for me and that the runs I would do Friday-Sunday were not skippable runs despite it being my first taper week (well not really, since my mileage was as high as the previous peak week but was a step back in intensity from the previous week). But when I thought hard about it, I didn't want to miss out on a important occasion (and fun occasion) for her because I was being too serious or inflexible in my training schedule. I figured it out though and it turned out that I could have my cake (a good three days of training) and eat it too (be at my sister's race). I had to get up at or before 5am for several days in a row, but the exhaustion I felt from the schedule was far outweighed by the happiness and fun of being there.

Happy and tired sister after finishing her first 50 miler in 8:32, 3rd woman!

After a great training block that began in mid-December, I finished my last long run on Sunday with Jonathan and felt really good about my speed, endurance and training. We had knocked out 6:20 pace for the first half of the run including a final 1+ miles to the turn around point at sub 6 pace, and it all really felt comfortable. We cruised back home at a more "conversational pace" but still were pulling just under 7 min miles. I returned to San Fran feeling tired and happy. I went to bed on Sunday exhausted and looking forward to my "day off" on Monday.

I woke up on Monday exhausted and feeling like I was getting sick. I had no energy and had to spend the majority of my time with my trainer working out pretty easily. I felt like I could just collapse into a heap and go to sleep. I was not excited about how I felt and picked up some Quick Defense by Gaia to fight off any semblance of a cold. Tuesday was worse than Monday in every which way. My track workout was horrible, I felt dead and couldn't hit my splits. Everything about my day that could go wrong, did go wrong, including being rear-ended on my way to see my pal Krissy. I just wanted to hide and freak out and cry and gnash my teeth. I tried not to get too stressed but I was sliding into one of two taper weeks and this was not boding well. Everything in life just seemed to be a bit off. When my morning run on Wednesday didn't go well (just a 7 mile recovery run!), I was reduced to curling up in a little ball and acting like a big baby. But then I had a moment and I flipped the switch. It was nothing in particular said or done, nothing changed inherently in the world, I just realized that I seriously needed to get a grip. Whether it was the taper tantrums gripping me or the fact that there was a full moon, I didn't need to let myself be sucked underneath a wave of negativity or self-doubt just because I was having a few off days. I was making life too serious just because it is creeping closer to my race. I decided to look on the bright side of things and change my attitude, find humor in things and things got better. It is amazing how that works.

This training has taught me a great deal. It has shown me a great deal about what my body can do and the limits I can push. It also taught me that I am at a point in my life where I can do something passionately and put 100% into it, but at the same time not lose perspective (for too long at least), humor and balance.

Catalina run with Jonathan during Sarah's race. Miles and miles of fun.

And I apologize for the flagrant overuse of the word serious in this post. It was seriously necessary.


  1. I am cheering for you Devon and applaud your willingness, courage and spirit you continue into some unknown territories. Reading some of your earlier posts have help support me in being healthier and more honest as I return to running after this past October's injury.

    I believe we all have demons that threaten parts of our lives...yet I think a definition of strength is to honor the demon and continue your path with vision and hope!

    Stay real and focused when you need to, and you will meet your spoken and unvocalized goals.
    With great enthusiasm and respect,

  2. I was going to say that I think that it is a huge challenge for an elite athlete to keep a balance and to keep things in perspective. But I actually think it's challenging relative to many aspects of life--career, family, athletics. Learning to balance and shift perspectives will serve you now and into the future in many ways.

    Love your posts. I find them inspirational and often quite relevant even though I run as much in a week as you do in a day (and about three times slower too!)

    Run like the wind in Houston, Devon. I'm rooting for you every step of the way!

  3. Hi Devon,

    I have been a lurker for awhile but just wanted to say great post, you are definitely an inspiration and I wish you the best of luck in Houston!

  4. Devon .. I seriously love your blogs. I to am trying not to lose perspective of what is really important. This comeback has been a challenge with serious training starting in just 1 week. Thanks for always sharing and inspiring me! You rule!!!!

  5. So seriously cheering for you Devon, you are an inspriation! Go Devon Go! Have a great taper week

  6. Devon,
    You sooo seriously crack me up! I am cheering for you from the great mud and slushy snow of the Southern Appalachians! Run with joy and love and focus and practice patience for as long as you must! Fly, girl, fly!

  7. Really great post. You inspire runners like me to do what's scary -- run fast and test limits back in a shorter, faster road race. I admire how you mix things up in terms of terrain, distance and goals. Go get it in Houston!


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