July 16, 2012

Reflection

Well just when I thought I was getting back into keeping this thing up to date with the last post, I fell off the writing horse again and into a sloth-like state.

I haven't been running. Like...at all (but I was doing Crossfit Endurance). And that's okay. In fact, it's more than okay. I think it is exactly what my body and my mind needed after the chaos of the past two years:

Started running July 2010
Ran first half October 2010
(seems like a big gap here but I did a few small races)
Ran first trail half September 2011
Ran first marathon October 2011
Ran first 50k May 2012 (wow...after typing that I just realized how soon ago that was...seems like longer)
Attempted first 50 mile June 2012.
Shortly after the 50 mile attempt, I vowed not to run for at least a month to let my body finally heal and give my mind a break from all the torment I have put it through.

It's been a whirlwind running career in my opinion. My first half marathon I ran a little under the weather and a little down in the soul when I hadn't seen my dad or stepmom on the course and missed my mom and friends at the first cheering spot.

I injured myself during my first trail half, twisting my ankle twice. Once at the 6 mile marker with a very audible POP, dusted myself off and kept running only to twist is again at mile 11 at which point damage was definitely done. I had to take off a good stretch of time to let that heal...all before my first full marathon. Needless to say, I ran the marathon but I wasn't in the best condition I could have been, physically or mentally. Life lessons.

The 50k in Bear Mountain was a true test to me. I wouldn't take it back for the world because I saw great inspiration at that race through many of the competitors, and I made a great running friend who motivated me to cross that finish line.  The drawback was that I picked an excruciatingly difficult race only a month before my 50 miler. Very challenging ups and downs left my knee shredded after the race and it definitely took a toll on my training for the month leading up to North Face.

North Face was a completely different beast. Had I not been injured (story of my running life...) and had I not been up to my shins in mud from the downpours of rain the night before the race, I think I would have completed the race with flying colors. I don't doubt my ability anymore. I will always remember how clumsy I am though. I fell more than once that day, as I suspect many people did, but two of the falls resulted in damage to my other ankle and my knee again.

What I am trying to get at here is that clearly I needed a break. Big time. I almost think I needed time away from thinking of it all, strategizing, planning out each run and what to eat, where to go, what to wear, on and on more than my body needed the recovery. I needed a break to reel my mind back in from so much negativity that started circling with each perceived failure. I say perceived because I don't consider bad runs failures anymore. Looking back now after my month plus of reflection, I learned something from every single run. Every trip over a root, every mis-ingested gel, every ill-timed outing. I am now a wealth of running information thanks to all of those blunders and successes.

I am now ready to take all that knowledge back out onto the road and start again. But I want to do things the right way this time. I've been reading Finding Ultra by Rich Roll. I guess you can say I drank the kool-aid on this one because this guy has me convinced that I need to change a few things about my lifestyle. First up and probably the most difficult, I need to alter my diet. Less meat focus, more veggies and fruits. Less processed foods. Time to think more about what I am getting out of everything I'm eating and how it is impacting my body and training and general well being. He makes a very strong case for the plant-based lifestyle, but that's something that I will have to eeeease into, if I ever make it there fully.

Rich Roll also talks about his journey to compete in Ultraman, an intense three day competition that is invitation only for a few lucky competitors. It's insane: day one entails a 6.2 mile swim, followed by a 90 mile bike ride. Day two is a 170 mile bike ride, and Day three culminates with a 52 mile run. Pretty insane (I hope I got those amounts right...). He went from barely active at all in his life to all of a sudden training for six months for this beast of a challenge. His coach taught him how to change his thinking and concentrate in the immediate on changing his lactate threshold (which I know mine is not good at all). He ran for months only in the Zone Two, keeping his heart rate in the aerobic zone. This eventually allowed him to run for much longer, and eventually longer and faster.  It is essential for endurance athletes.

Since I am just getting back on the horse, that's how I intend to start. Slowly, small runs in my Z2, building up time but keeping it in the zone. After I get a job and a paycheck, I also intend on buying a bike so I can cross train and keep my muscles balanced.

I still want to incorporate Crossfit Endurance into my fitness regimen. We'll see how it goes. So far I have Big Sur International Marathon on my list of registered races, April 28, 2013. I've been wanting to run it, so I am extremely excited I was able to register.

Happy trails!




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