Running, by it's definition, and like life, is a state of transformation. The changes in the body are fairly obvious: weight loss, increases in energy levels, muscle toning and growth, aches and pains from time to time. But when the subject of running comes up in conversation with me (as it often does), it's always the power of running to transform the soul, mind and spirit that I want to talk about. So outwardly physical, the act of running itself doesn't leave much to the imagination of the observer. But for the runner, and at it's core, running is a manifestation of the mind: one must DECIDE to run before one will run. Even if that decision is made subconsciously, out of fear or fancy, there was an impetus to run and the body followed the mind's decision. To me, the fascinating thing about ultra-running is the decision to continue to run and run and run and the internal battle to continue that motivation for hours on end. Possibly days. And possibly a lifetime. And so I wonder, what is the driving force behind that decision?
A large part of my Running Life was the absence of running for about 10 years. My early Running Life was my early teens to early 20s, when running was just a part of training for other sports and endeavors, but I never ran just for the sake of running. Although going for a run, and particularly, running a race, was fun, it was scheduled and regimented and competitive. It lacked a spiritual side.
I, more or less, stopped running after getting out of the Navy in 1995. I would occasionally go for a run over the years, but it was almost more punishment than pleasure because I wasn't doing it regularly. Four years ago, when I started trail running (which evolved out of long, solo hikes) my new Running Life was reborn but it was now a direct product of all I had learned in the intervening decade about treating myself rather badly. Now, the running was a catharsis. It was a time to feel good about myself and lucidly absorb the world around me. My running had finally developed the spiritual element it had been lacking.
Now, my Running Life has become my Running Lifestyle. So much do I believe in it's ability to transform the soul and reinvigorate your passion. So, what is the driving force? For me, it's the transformations. The Changes. Sure, I want to run some ultra races and do massive destination runs in my lifetime but what the Running Lifestyle is teaching me is that simple things, like the act of running, are the most important things in life. Eat and drink well, get plenty of rest, have a positive attitude, challenge yourself occasionally and listen to your heart. Along your route, things will change and your running will allow you meet those changes head on.
All that said, I did run for the soul this week instead of "training." Monday, after Sunday's long run, I went out on the road and made up a route as I went along, paying no attention to distance or pace. I did wear a watch and ran for 1:33.37 along Hwys 40 and 14, up into a private country club and across the greenbelt to Whistler Park. Fun. Tuesday, I rested and just walked Benihana in my VFFs, jogging occasionally. It was a nice day!
Wednesday was time to go a little harder and I got off work around 2:00 (we've been DAMN slow this year!) to do a push up to the Gondola. I ran from the house and made it to the top of the gondy in 1:01, which got me super stoked since I was starting from Thunderhead last summer to get that same time. It was a sunny but very windy afternoon and about a minute before I started down Valley View, a huge tree was blown over and onto the trail. It made me a little nervous knowing I was going to be running in the woods the entire descent and the thought of a tree crashing onto my little brown body was not at all appealing. I decided to charge the downhill and ran the 4+ miles of trails in :35. Overall, 8.95 steep miles (up and down), 1:36. Not too shabby.
Thursday (off early again) I drove up Rabbit Ears to 10,000' and Dumont Lake to see how well the high country is thawing out. I ran without a watch or GPS along the shore of Dumont Lake and crossed the feeder stream at the west end. The first shady treed section still had about 2' of snow and the trail was buried immediately. I turned around and ran back to another road, then single track, then game trail until I was standing in a meadow in the middle of the woods. It was a cool spot but I had completely lost the trail. Back tracked out of there and ran back to the trail head and decided to run up to the Rabbit Ears. The road was mostly dry, some puddles in spots and a couple creek crossings flowed quickly. After a couple miles, the road was still buried in snow and I opted for the steep foot trail up to ridge. A cold wind was blowing at the top of the ridge and my wet shirt started super-cooling me quickly. I didn't linger long, ate a gel and booked it downhill and a couple miles back to the truck. That day, I ran in a new pair of Inov-8 Talon 240s. High top running "boots" that I am loving. So light, great traction, good support, roomy toe box. Sick.
Friday, I mowed the lawn. I think my neighbor was checking me out but that's OK because she is HOT. Didn't really feel the need to go running after that.
Yesterday, I decided to run all my errands. Put on the Camelbak and ran to town, checked the mail and ran into a couple of friends. Beautiful morning. I walked down Oak St. for a second and checked out the Mustangs lining the street for the Mustang Rally. Amazing looking cars. Ran to the west side of town and hung out with Christian for 10 minutes and then ran back through town to Staples. I met a guy in the parking lot who said he had seen me on the other side of town earlier. I felt a pleasant satisfaction in knowing somebody had seen me running, literally, all over town. From Staples, I ran up to the base area to see my hot neighbor and flirt with her, touch a snake, check out a mechanical bull and almost hit a little girl with a 19th century toy. Ran home from there and completed a super fun and productive 15.31 miles in 2:53.
To all the fathers out there, Happy Father's Day!