This amazing thing has happened. I've found rhythm running on the trails. Not pretend rhythm-- real live I count to 4 and feel my little feet pushing the dirt, rocks, and roots around rhythm. Power. "Your stride is longer, Sophia." It is and I can feel it. I pummel down the hills. Wee hee!! I yell. It's pure unadulterated freedom. At last. "Wow, she's speeding up on us." Yes I am gentlemen. Follow me. It's Saturday and 12 miles later, I'm tired. For good reason. 10 miles Monday at Perry with new Mudbabe Vanessa, mega-tron hill repeats at the Gov's on Wednesday. 16 miles on the hookie run at Clinton on Friday at a fast pace. Now it's Saturday and we're at mile 18. "I think it would help a little to speed up." And it does, until at 21 my toe starts to swell. Still when I finish my heart is beating strong-- and I have lots of energy. I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before and was seriously worried I'd be dead weight on the 20 mile (I thought ) run. "Was that more than 20?" We'd just finished and my watch showed over 4 hours. "Hell yes. Try 23 or 23.7." Phew... I can forgive myself for getting tired at 21 after a tough day prior. Had it happened at 18, I would have felt like a loser.
I've gotten kind of addicted to these back to back long runs. It's true ultra training and there's something kind of exhilarating and crazy about it. But my week wasn't over. The cherry on the Sundae was Sunday's Sandrat 9.7 mile river run. Despite a flexibilty workout after the 23 mile run on Saturday, my legs were as sore and stiff. I didn't know what to expect on Sunday. But I didn't expect much. "I may be trotting in the back helping out a slower runner." "How are those sticks after 23 miles yesterday Sophia?" Gary Henry was headed past me. He'd been saving himself since Wednesday for the Sandrat. Oddly, my legs felt pretty good at the start-- but would they last? Mile after mile, I look at my watch and realize we're running 8:10- 8:20 a mile. RTB RTB. I ran with Superhero Mudbabe Debbie. Took her steady on- the whole race. 6 minutes faster than she ran the year before. "I wish I could bottle up what was making you run so fast." I'd told Debbie it might be the Sumatran Velvet coffee I had that morning--but I think it was something more powerful than that. "FAIRY DUST! Peter Pan gave it to me." Rounding the final patch of pavement at the end Kelley and Matthew were chearing me on. "Your running looks incredible, Sophia. You didn't even look tired. Matthew said the same thing."
Age group winners got rats. Here's the Mudbabe "Ratpack."
If anyone had told me on Monday I would run 16 fast miles on Friday. 23 good paced miles on Saturday-- and top it off with nearly 10 at an 8:18 pace on Sunday-- I would have said.. I wish you were talking about me, because that's amazing. But I would not have beleived it could be me.
Could I possibly have worked hard enough to acheive this? Do I deserve it? Tonight I look in the mirror at the fit woman staring back. She's smiling with a twinkle in her eye. I like her. I like her a lot. Actually, I adore her. She does deserve this. And it is me.
How did I do it? Not easy. Train hard. Lots of purposeful miles. Fast miles, hill miles, back to back long runs and planned recovery. I lost 18 pounds. "Sophia, are you size 4?" Yes I am.
Still that was all easy compared with the mental weight I shed. External changes are good, but much easier than taking care of yourself emotionally, and making changes from the inside out. But I was ready, and I started cleaning. Tossing out a lot of unnecessary baggage. Mostly guilt with a dash of confusion and some judgement.
I've been carrying a lot of guilt all of my life. Early in September, I said goodbye to guilt for good. Things became clear. I wasn't confused anymore. "When did you stop going to church, Sophia?" My brother's friend Summer and I were talking about the Christian guilt factor. "Oh a long time ago-- but I just stopped feeling guilty about not going 2 weeks ago." Still, I don't judge people who love going to church, if it makes them feel good. Running in the woods makes me feel good. So I'll stick to that. 64 miles this week. 4 different Kansas trails.
When I was a child, my parents and grandfather's mantra was "if it's fun don't do it." So I always felt a twinge of guilt when I'd have fun. Now, not only do I feel no guilt, I make a concerted effort to allign as much fun in every part of my life, inclulding work--or even cleaning the bathroom, that I can. So much laughter. So much joy. So many spontaneous unexpected options. Because I have no guilt.
A funny thing happens when you expell a powerful ( negative) emotion like guilt and confusion. There is a beautiful gorge left in your soul. All of a sudden, people you used to think couldn't give you what you needed seem to give you enough. My whole life I've asked for so much emotionally from others. Unfortunately guilt, confusion and judgement were filling up the place the love was supposed to go-- and the love bounced off. Now the love goes in. Inside I'm warm, loved and happy. A healthy glow-- with a sprinkle of Fairy Dust.
My brother calls me "Rome." Because I can take any idea and make it better. It's pretty fun. I like to create joy and charisma wherever I go!
Here's what one friend says about me:
" An amazing, deep, powerful spirit who seemed to dance with reckless finesse on the fine line between darkness and glory. i always did admire you."