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Yesterday at work a woman near lectured me on how this was a beautiful winter, and everyone complaining that this was the “worst winter ever” needs to stuff it. When she was done speaking, and looked at me for some sort of confirmation or agreement, I simply said to her “but this was the worst winter ever.”
At least it felt like it to me.
A month ago I wrote a “farewell to spring“ post. The sun was out, and I was convinced that spring was near. Well, I was wrong. That day was followed by four more weeks of sub freezing temperatures and more snow. I know it seems like such a trite thing to complain about, what with people suffering the true wrath of mother nature in the form of droughts, forest fires, severe flooding, and so on. But this winter nearly broke me; my seasonal affective disorder hit an all time low (high?) and I yearned for warm, fresh air and sunshine so badly it physically hurt. But I think this time, we’ve finally made it.
Yesterday we hit a local trail for a glorious 7 mile run. Because winter was so slow to disappear, the trails are relatively dry, instead of the standard “mud season” mess we typically see around here this time of year. Other than the occasional obligatory April patch of snow, of course…
but you know, it’s Vermont.
Today marks day 9 in a row of the opening shift at work, with most of those days followed by 16 more hours at the gym (work). My boss is on vacation, and while I am MORE than happy to help out (please don’t take this as a complaint): I am tired. 4:30 wake up calls are foreign to me. I get home at 10 pm and literally fall into bed.
As a result, yesterday’s run felt like I was wearing cement blocks on my feet. (But I wasn’t, I was wearing the new Skora Tempos. Which, for the record, are my new favorite shoe. More on that later.) Every ounce of my being wanted to say to Geoff “let’s turn around early (it was a 3.5 mile out and back). But the part of my brain that knows I’ve got some insane racing coming up recognized that nothing actually hurt, nothing was wrong with my body, I was just tired. And learning to push through being tired is absolutely imperative for our 48 hour race. I hate to use the now overly cliché term in the endurance world, but “embrace the suck”. Plus after being cooped up all winter, it was way too nice to blow the opportunity by claiming to be “too tired”.
So on we went.
Switching gears from trying to be fast and push hard to learning to simply endure is a psychological challenge for sure. I’m used to pushing hard, trying to beat my time…or that girl in front of me…constantly trying to get faster and stronger. Now as we prepare for this ultra (and by prepare, I mean cram. Don’t try this at home), the game plan has changed. It’s not about how fast we can get to the finish line…because there is no finish line. It’s 48 hours of as many miles as we can endure. Walking, hiking, and yes, running.
My plan for the rest of my runs over the next few months is to run without a GPS…or at least keep it out of sight (in the hydration pack). I’m setting my goals on spending time on my feet. Zone 2, efficient fat burning, pure aerobic time on my feet. Pace be damned.
And yesterday, I did just that. And it was wonderful.
I wish there were words to describe how happy and content I feel on the trails. But there aren’t. I’m reminded of a bumper sticker my dad had on his truck while I was growing up, it said “A bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work”. While I’m truly fortunate that I enjoy my line of work, the sentiment still remains similar:
a bad day on the trails is still a good day.