Monday, September 29, 2014

Run Intentionally!

Well I'm sitting here on my Monday morning sipping my perfect cup of coffee and icing my swollen right ankle.  But instead of feeling sorry for myself I'm elated.  Let me explain why.  If you follow my blog then you know I am in the thick of training for a 50 mile trail run in November.  This past weekend I ran my longest trail run ever, 20 miles of a 50 mile relay in the mountains of VT.  To say I was scared was an understatement.  My longest trail run ever has been 6 miles.  Most of my training for this ultra has been on the road or the beloved dreadmill treadmill so 20 miles seemed a little scary.  Not to mention I was the third runner of our group of three and each runner who came in after their leg said "OMG did you see this hill..and that hill?"  All those comments just fueled the anxiety and fear that was rolling around in my head. It's interesting if you look at it how the mind plays tricks on you, fuels that anxiety ridden side and fills you with doubt when you don't even know what's coming.
It was a gorgeous day, even a little too gorgeous for running.  Temps in the 80's and full sun after the morning fog lifted.  I headed out for my portion of the run around 12:28 in the afternoon according to my GPS watch.  The first few miles were a myriad of hills and trail.  The crazy thing about trail running is that there are places you can cruise along and others where you do not have a choice but to take a deep breath hunker down and walk the trail.  Running a large hill is just a waste of precious energy and not something to squander away.  By mile 5 or 6 I started to get into it.  I felt light on my feet like a boxer in the ring.  Bouncing around, on my toes totally alert and focused on the trail ahead.  I didn't look far ahead just at what was right in front of me at that moment.  That next single step.  I surprised myself at how good I felt at the technical aspect of the trail.  What I had feared the most was really nothing more than a huge ball of anxiety that my mind created for me.  So much wasted energy.  Does that happen to you in life?  Do you waste time contemplating and thinking about what is about to come instead of focusing on the here and now?

I made it to the second aid station aprox 12 miles into my run feeling pretty darn good for the hot conditions.  I had two cups of gingerale and refilled my water.  I also took two salt tabs and went on my way.  The view from here was amazing and the pictures didn't really do it justice.  Normally I would not stop to take pictures, let alone a selfie.  But it was too beautiful not to take it all in, plus this was so posed to be a training run, not a race.
hi hot sweaty mess!

So at mile 15 it was back into the woods under the canopy and much needed shade from the sun.  I was feeling re-energized again taking the trail head on, watching my footing feeling confident in my technical ability to own the trail.  I'm not sure exactly where I was mileage wise but in one quick second I was down.  Biting it hard.  My right ankle turned and I slammed down on my left knee.  My hands dug into the dry dirt and I must of yelled out some profanity because the two runners in front of me stopped and the one coming up behind me asked if I needed help.  I gritted my teeth and said  "No no I'm ok, I just need a minute".  I pushed myself off the single track trail and collected myself.  My ankle hurt like hell, but my ego hurt more.  I knew instantly what went wrong, I wasn't paying attention to my run.  I was focused on the girl in the red shirt I had passed earlier, she was coming up on me and I wanted to stay ahead.  I could hear her coming up on me, so instead of looking at the path that was right in front of me I let myself look ahead.  Too far ahead and that was not where my focus needed to be.  What I needed to do was focus on my intentional foot steps right in front of me.  I needed to stay right in that moment but instead I heard the foot falls of the girl in the red and I let my mind wander to the 10 steps that were coming.  I wasn't watching what was right in front of me and boom.  Needless to say the girl in the red shirt passed me and I never caught her again.  

I did get up and shake it off.  My knee hurt and was bleeding, my ankle sore, but I was not going to stop.  I walked more of the last 3-4 miles than I care to admit.  My foot steps after that were very cautious like a kid that has fallen off his bike a few times after taking the training wheels off.  Your cautious to take those next few pedal strokes for fear of falling off again.  Unfortunately I could not get that fluid, light on my feet feeling back.  I was so annoyed at myself.  Have you ever had that happen to you in life where you are not being intentional with your steps and you miss the mark?  Have you ever stumbled and fell only to look back to see that if you had taken the steps properly, focused on the task at hand and not worried about what other people were doing you would have succeeded in your goal?  Well I certainly did yesterday.

Note to self:  

  1. don't let anxiety and negativity predetermine your future, you don't know what actually is to come until you get there. 
  2. be intentional in what you do.
  3. be in the moment and focus on the task at hand 
  4. don't worry about what is to come because you cannot change it or make a decision until you get there.  
  5. and don't worry about what other people are doing, this isn't about them this is about you and your goals.

I did finish the race, my time for my leg of the relay according to my garmin was 4:14 for 19.8 miles.  that's a 12:51 pace.  Not bad given the hills and the fact I bit it around mile 15, took a bunch of selfies and pictures along the way.  My lovely team members and crew cheered me to the finish line which was, if I must say pretty spectacular!  The best part of my day was when I heard them shout my name from the top of the mountain I lifted my fist to signal I could hear them and picked up my pace.  I almost cried at that very moment.  
I'm a total dork when I'm running just FYI!

Phew!!! That was a lot of inner work that was found on the trail yesterday.  Have you ever had that kind of moment where you knew you didn't do something right because you were so focused on everything else that you forgot to be intentional with that you were doing and the steps you needed to take to accomplish that goal?  Tell me about it.  I can't be the only one who has had this ah ha moment.