Monday, September 28, 2015

Existential musings

Sometimes I feel like I'm just fast enough to stay a half step ahead of it...

This thing we do, affirms life. It seeks challenges, adventures, the roads less travelled...

We all have our reasons. Our stories. Our raison d'etre.

I closed the Brierwood loop by my Dad's house in a 6:08 mile late Saturday afternoon. Later at dinner I confessed that I did not know why I had run the 5 miler so hard. But perhaps, that's the speed it took at that particular moment in time to stay a half step ahead of it...

I miss my Mom. I will never ever see her again. But I can stay ahead of that...

Regrets, confusion, sadness... life on life's terms. But I can stay ahead of all that too...

Happiness. Joy. Freedom. A sense of purpose and belonging. I can slow down for that if I choose to...

They bury us all in the end anyway right?

Bah. I can laugh and go for a run.

Peace to all.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Recovering, moving on

Have been trying to thread the needle between recovering from my 30 mile mountain ultra, and getting into race shape for a 5K coming up the first Saturday in October. Plus just in a basic sense getting that lovin' feeling back when I lace up the running shoes and head out the door.

Such as today's run which consisted mainly of slower paced miles back on the water logged Carolina Beach State Park Trails. Taking in the sight of dozens of little sand crabs scurrying across the wooden bridges that traverse parts of the marsh land near the Cape Fear River. Digging the views, the moisture dripping off the trees, the smells that the woods take on after a good soaking rain.

Had a couple harder run/ work-outs the past week plus. Last Saturday morning fortuitously came upon some steep hills just east of Birmingham, AL, up from the hotel I was staying at. Knees kissing the chin total breath sapped out of the lungs suckers too. Mixed in a few thirty second burst of sub 5k pace running and a few in and out sprints towards the end of about a 5 mile run.

Monday at Cape Fear Flyers practice ran 7 400s with Owen and Zack. Grassy, meandering track my fellow coach Shawn had set up. Ran them all in about 1:25ish. Two minute rest cycle. Pleased how the two boys ran as well. Pushing themselves, encouraging each other. Been a great start too to the Cross Country season.

Then Wednesday before practice I ran a hard 1.5 miles at top end threshold pace, 6:17, and 6:08 pace mix of on and off road, and also last section into a pretty good early fall breeze. Added 2 fast 400s on the grass track, 1:13, 1:17. Legs tying up into wobbly pretzels the last 100 meters of each rep. Down on my knees gasping for air after. A bit later then some ditch/ hill circuits with the kids. Loving how even the young ones 6,7,8 years old are working and out there getting it.

Also getting back more into the ancillary work. Pushups, free weights, sit-ups, planks, some other core work that coach Amie had the kids doing Monday.

Ready for the fall season to unravel.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Iron Mountain 2015 part I

It all happened so fast. I had just passed some fellow competitors and increased my pace going down a narrow single track trail through the woods when WHAM. I hit the ground so hard I'm pretty sure I went into a bit of shock for a few moments. I don't even remember beginning to trip or the actual fall itself... just parts of the immediate aftermath.

My watch snapped off and sunglasses skipped a few times down the trail before coming to a stop. Then, a complete, an eerie silence. Until those same runners came bounding down the trail and asked if I was ok?  I spit blood out of my mouth, took my dirty, cut up hand and rubbed my face to try and feel how bad it was. Then I gingerly pushed myself up and onto my feet. Not sure if I could even stand, let along walk, or gosh even run? 

My heart was beating fast. I took a few easy steps, and a few more down the rocky, root strewn trail and realized, relatively speaking I was alright. I had a dirty face, belly and chest. And a fat upper lip, but nothing broken, and only a couple of bruises, including a bit of my ego and pride. And after a short walk I started to slowly run again. My left leg was quite sore but able to move in the normal range motion I needed it to be able to in order to run. So I carried forth.

For that's the nature of an ultra. They are full of challenges, twists of fate, highs, lows, and seemingly everything in between. They contain innumerous tests of willpower. I could have called it a day but I didn't. I moved forward. A step at a time. Sometimes quite slowly, and quite painfully. But I didn't quit. Though my brain periodically reminded me of that option, my heart and spirit wouldn't allow for it. The running gods helped pull me through, as did my fellow competitors. I hope I helped a few in return. Ultras are truly a "We" sport.

And we were all participants in the Iron Mountain Trail Run September 5 in Damascus, Virginia. 50, 30, and 16 mile options were available. The course predominately uses the Iron Mountain Trail which traverses a rugged section of the spine of the Appalachian Mountains, in extreme southwestern Virginia. The 50 mile race features over 8,000 feet in net elevation gains.

As for myself, I finished the 30 miler in front of the Damascus town park gazebo with a smile on my face. Not as fast as I would have liked, but that didn't matter. What did matter is that I had persevered, and found sublime moments of joy in coping with, and ultimately overcoming the pain. I was able to see the forest through the trees