Sunday, September 7, 2008

Divorcing Pavement

I've been running a lot lately on the trails. Some might call it a binge. But I don't like that word. It seems so undisciplined and unhealthy. Like binge drinking and binge eating. And I have binged on running before.
June: While the 50 miles a week I was pounding out may have seemed disciplined, I was headed right out my front door on pavement. Not just any pavement either. Hard unforgiving concrete. The whole experience makes me sad. First you notice a hip injury, then even your heart hurts as heat and exhaust fumes fill you up instead of warmth and nature. The worst part? The trails at the Governor's Mansion were only 2 miles away. Why didn't I just get in my car and drive over? Or ride my bike?

Sometimes the answers are so close in life-- yet we just can't grasp them.

Moving forward, I've decided I prefer the word "gorge." Much more positive. The word holds so much more passion and good will. Even topographically. While running on a trail, have you ever come up to a beautiful "Binge?" Nope. But there are many glorious gorges. And let's face it the word sounds like gorgeous.

So I'm gorging on trail running. I'll admit when I first started running with the Nerds it was more of a social outlet. I couldn't quite part with the rhythm and speed of the streets. And it's odd. How could someone with my passion and flare like training that's so boring? Easy answer. I just hadn't grown up enough. I've only been running since 2004, and sometimes it takes a while to figure things out. I was confused.

Over and over my friend Kelley would beg me please to get off the streets. She was afraid I was going to hurt myself. She knows me well and knows I like to overtrain. But like leading the horse to water, you can't make it drink. For the longest time, I just wasn't understanding. I would run the trails on the weekends with my Nerds and Mudbabes, but it was pavement all week. Everyone was telling me--"choose the trails," but I needed to learn it for myself.

It was so convenient to just pop out the door and pound the pavement.

But it wasn't just the convenience.. I wasn't sold. I convinced myself I wasn't taking the easy road because I was still running hard on the pavement. Hard enough to finish well at Boston. And I still had trouble getting my rhythm on the trails. I was afraid of falling. Often running the trails, I lost ambition and would just trot along slowly. No attempts at getting faster.

However, I liked the people. And I really liked the mud. I was just confused.

Some history: In December 2007, I got off the trail at Wyco during the chili run and happily returned to the pavement, but felt like a quitter. I was lost. Deep down I felt I was a trail runner, I just couldn't let go of the speed and ease. But you pay for that choice with chronic injuries.

August: I make a choice. I want to run. Not just today. Not just tomorrow. But forever. And I want to run far. 30-40-50-100 miles. I want to run in the woods with reckless abandon. I want to dance by the light of the moon and take an ad- hoc shower after a 10 mile run with my best friend. I come to terms with the summer insects. After creepy dreams of ticks, I overcome my fears and just pick-em off. And put me out front of the group. There is no spider web I won't run through. NOTHING scares me.

And The Governor's Mansion is still only 2 miles away.

I love those trails but hadn't run them since March 21st. Now I was ready to go back.

Trails on Mondays.
Trails on Tuesdays.
Hill repeats on Wednesday.
More, More, More, on Thursday.
Hills on Friday? Sure.
Run Lawrence in the morning and Hillsdale in the evening? Yes.
Race on Saturday. Count on it!
Trails everywhere, everyday. 50- 60 miles a week.

Sure, it costs me time since it takes longer to run those 50-60 miles on a trail. And it costs me money in gas to get to the longer trails. But it's worth it. Despite all those miles, my body feels great and it's rock solid. As for time and money? It's worth it too. Because good health and happiness are the most important things in life. I am sold. Sold on life. Sold on running trails. GORGE. I'm divorcing pavement.

I feel a little bad that I carried this -- well hard to say it-- love of running pavement all these months of being the Original Mudbabe. But now I close my eyes and I see these perfect formations of rocks and roots-- and I kind of get all giddy. I want to see how fast I can get around them....

So it returns. The need for speed. Can I find it on the trails?

Trail Race on Saturday: Well the extra practice combined with the destroy or die hill repeat regimen worked.

I ran solid 10 minute miles at a race at Clinton over the weekend. I darted ahead of the lady in front of me on the last half mile because it was... you guessed it.. uphill. I came in second for the ladies and made my best friend and myself proud. Considering I got hit by the ragweed and ran 14 miles the day before, I'm good with it.

And I do love being competetive. I'll get faster-- just you watch.

But this story isn't about being competetive. It's about seeing that sometimes the rocky, rooty tough choice is the right choice. It's about seeing what you want and overcoming confusion. It's also about allowing yourself to be confused, and working through it-- not just in your head, but by doing it. It's about loving two things, but moving forward even if it's not socially acceptable. And it's about making a choice -- even if you loved what you let go. If the reason you loved something is because it's convenient and easy, it's not true discipline. And that's unhealthy... so get on the trail!

Muddy Hugs,

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