Monday, October 13, 2008

Hangin' with the EX

On September 7th, five weeks ago, I posted a blog about divorcing pavement. I had decided I needed to take the plunge. Make a choice about which surface was for me. It has been oddly difficult.

Like all divorces, you end up spending some time with the ex. In the past 2 weeks, ( over 3 weekends) I've been asked to emcee or run paved races, because of my job as a newscaster. The first was just a 5k, my least favorite distance. I ran with my friend Stefanie and wasn't shooting for any great time. The weather was absolutely beautiful. In the middle weekend, I had a trail running breakthrough. The next paved race weekend proved more interesting, and difficult emotionally. It was a half marathon. It would be a lot of time on pavement, and a distance, of which I'm much more fond.

Again, the weather was perfect. My ex was looking great. I met some folks during the race who were pretty nice. I'd met up with some new Trail Nerds before the race. I was running fast. I started to wonder if my ex was trying to get me back. 7 miles/ 55 minutes. 9 miles 1:10. 13.1 in 1:43. My previous half marathon PR was 1:48:30. Yup, the ex wants me, and wants me bad.

But for this MudBabe, it was lipstick on a pig . Remember that swollen toe problem I had after 21 MILES the week before. It started around mile 5 and my left hip started to ache around mile 7. I hit mile 10.
"Oh she's got a second wind."
There was a fellow about 59 running behind me. Not a typical running type, but he was keeping up.
Little did he know it wasn't a second wind. Just desparation to get OFF THE PAVEMENT.

Every time I looked down it looked the same. Asphalt, concrete. For a paved race though, it was a nice course. Through neighborhoods, and a loop instead of out and back. "Come back to me trail runner-- I'm so smooth!!" Still, despite the fall season, I didn't even cross a leaf. Or a twig. Did someone sweep them off before the race? I was BORED. And no amount of running fast was going to help.

I didn't have a moment of confusion, or regret for my decision to choose the trails. Several factors played into this. My week of breakthrough running-- but also the following week of runs that directly preceded the race. One breakthrough just wasn't enough for this MudBabe.

Covered in fairy dust, I've been tackling the Red Trail. 300 million year old limestone and shale blocks. In the past it's been my favorite spot at Clinton for beauty, but I shied away from it on solo training runs because technically it's so difficult. Running with the groups, we always just walk it. But lately, I've noticed Bad Ben just flying over the rocks. I wanted to be able to do it too. Amazing what running that portion twice a day, 2 days in a row can do. I'm running it. Not as fast as Ben yet-- but definitely improved. And I'm addicted. I couldn't stop thinking about it while I was on that pavement.

Dead tired, the alarm blares. 6:30am. Don't have to go to work until 2pm. Sure, I could sleep in and run on pavement at 10 or 11. Nope. I bound out of bed.. twitching for another attack on the Red Trail.

Or I'm returning from an appointment in KC. Do I meet up with a friend for lunch? Nope. Red Trail again.

Another bonus. I'm mentoring some new Trail Nerds I'd met the previous Sunday at Sandrat.
"You are our trail running guru!" I had just taken Topekan's Hunter and John on a tour of the Governor's Mansion, and their first experience on single track.
"Wow-- this is amazing. I'm so bored with pavement. We need a Topeka Trail Nerds Chapter."
Well guys.. you've got it.
"ew. Look at all the snot on your tights!"
I have a mucus problem, and keep forgetting a hankie.
"You're the snotty hottie!"
It just doens't take long to bond with new runners. We'd already run across a gaveyard. I made a joke about shallow unmarked graves. But there was no whining.
"How do you deal with the runner's high Sophia?"
John had just flown down a hill like a kid at recess at Clinton.
"You were so up when we met you at Sandrat."
"I try to never come down! And fortunately running on the trails is easier on your body so you can run more-- faster and faster-- higher and higher --although I do use ample amounts of fairy dust. Flying."

Here's the scary part though.

What if this paved half marathon had been September 6th, instead of October 11th? On the cusp of my decision to go with the trails. I would have missed the Northshore trail run, where I had progress. Not a breakthrough, but progress. With just the fun of a few weeks on the trails, but no true rhythm, I'm not sure I would have been strong enough to stick with my decision. (by the way, I ended up passing that lady in front of me in the pic--that was the one paved blip in the trail race)

It's really hard to make a decision to go with something new and unconventional if you don't immerse yourself in it. Or if you aren't in it long enough to really have a breakthrough. What strikes me most about my path on the trails, is that each day, week and now a month, piece after piece falls in place and the confusion goes away. This time, I made the right choice. But that hasn't always been the case for me.

A big goal for me was to get a job as a reporter in Kansas City. It was the right, conventional choice for a young woman advancing her career. Day after day. Year after year, I got more and more confused. Finally, I broke my contract and quit. It was a rocky time.
"Sophia, do you want me to get your job back."
My lawyer was trying to help.
"No, I don't want to go back there."
As I struggled along this path though, things fell into place. The confusion dispelled.
I got a job I like a lot better. Even though Topeka is a much less glamorous city.
Many reporters work here, hoping to get to KC. Not the other way around.
Topeka, an unconventional choice. But I like it.
I have fun at work.. Like at this recent fire.

Most important, I fell in mud with trail running and met a wonderful, supportive group of friends.

So I have a new theory. Perhaps it's too simple for most people to follow.
If you make a big choice in life and are riddled with chronic confusion, it's the wrong one.
If you make a big choice in life and the little pieces fall into place it's the right one--even though you may hurt at times for what you lost.
Most people make the wrong choices because of duty, or convention.

Now if you still don't beleive me. ask yourself.. was the confusing choice somehow the easier, status quo choice? Because, staying in KC reporting, would sure have been easier, and more dutiful than what I chose. But I would have been confused. And honestly, even though the Nerds are out of KC, I'm not sure I would have had the energy to try something new.

I was talking about the "ex" factor with John and Hunter after the race.
"Well, Sophia there is the comfort factor in hainging with the ex."
"Yeah, but I was bored."
"Me too. I'm ready to run the trails, Original MudBabe."
"Hills on Thursday, guys!"
"Hills on Thursday!"

Muddy Hugs, everyone.

No comments: