After my 5 hour, 26 mile waaaambulance ride Saturday I returned to the hotel room pretty seriously defeated feeling. The plan was to stay the weekend and run Turkey Mt again Sunday. I think I mentioned I'd rather eat a box of rocks than spend another hour in Turkey Mt... I decided I'd head back home and venture out early, the other direction to Hobbs State Park trails in Arkansas. My feet killed me all day saturday, felt like someone had taken a hammer to them. I was seriously dreading Sunday. I couldn't imagine that after 5 hrs of feeling so rotten and feet really hurting, that the very next day 3 hrs on trail would feel any better. I was nervous, would I quit? I called my pacer for Leadville. Hobbs State Park is his back yard..."Hey Shannon, I know its last minute, but you up for a 3 hr run at 5:30 tomorrow?". "I'm in". I was grateful for company. The agenda called for running some "sustained climbs". Getting my heart rate into middle upper zones and maintaining it through the climb. Uhm..remember I never once made it out of lower zones no matter what I tried yesterday...not once over 5 hrs..not once over 26 miles? I woke up at 2am with dread. I was afraid I would fail miserably again Sunday...and what would that mean if I kept failing..what would happen at Leadville? Instead of acknowledging these thoughts and moving through and past them I was letting them consume me and choosing to believe them. Thoughts are thoughts. We have a choice to believe them. We have the option to find new thoughts, positive thoughts like steps of a stair or ladder, climbing up and over to a new level, a higher plane where you can see the bigger picture. I made it back to sleep and got up at 4. Drank a little coffee and ate a little cereal.
Met Shannon at the trail head. I said, "you lead". He said, "no, you". Dangit. It's easier to follow. He wouldn't see me struggle if I followed. Here we go. I took it fairly easy. My feet were feeling good. The battered feeling was gone. The first thing I noticed was the sounds...the slight breeze, the trees rustling, the softer less technical trail..loose small gravel mostly, with pine needles. It was slight up and down. It was like nature and the trail were saying, "It's ok, come on now, see?, im here for you to enjoy". I relaxed and settled into a nice pace. I could hear, my breathing was rythmic, my feet felt light and happy. A little climb or two then a nice descent to a dry creek crossing. A low point. Lush green all around, darker, cooler breeze. Then Shannon says, "here's your climb, go". I worked it. High foot turnover, quick steps, like peddling a bicycle. Arms pumping, elbows back and forth driving. Knees driving. Heart rate climbing...and climbing..I smiled big and breathed hard! I was in the higher heart rate zones and feeling good. Breathless but good. Topped the first hill with hands on knees thrilled. I COULD do it...AND feel good.
The sun was up and peaking through all the trees that were thinner at the top of the ridge. Next section was a nice steady down. It felt easy, smooth, winding down. I was able to open my hips and stretch my legs and fly. Weeee!, it was fun and easy and a great way to recover after a climb. We continued on up and down little rollers. Shannon flagged the next climb and said, "go". It was nice to have someone encouraging me. I would smile and take off. Top of climb, heart rate high,hands on knees, starting to really believe it was going to be a really good day. The climbs were spaced perfectly apart. Far enough to get nice and recovered but not too far apart to get lazy. We hit the visitors center, popped out of the trail and onto the pavement. I was struck by the difference in temp. It was a good 10 degrees warmer on the exposed road. I ate a gel or two and drank water and back on the trail we went. We came upon a skunk. I didnt notice he was poised to spray. I didnt have my glasses or contacts. I was lingering, getting ready to say something about how cute...and shannon is like, "go..go...go!". Im used to the skunks I encounter around town at 4am..they're like cats. Fat and lazy and not startled easily. I had to explain my lackadaisical reaction. I'm pretty sure he thought I was nuts. And on we went. More descending. Back down into the thick lush green and dry creek bed. And up. And up. This time to the highest point in the park. The trees opened up and the sun was bright. You could see for miles. Hands on knees huffing and puffing again. Followed along the ridge for a while before going down again. . At 2 hours and 15 minutes we made it back to the start. Shannon had already put in a ton of miles this week and it was time for him to go. He pointed me down the trail. 45 minutes left. Down I went, all the way to the lake. I seriously contemplated going for a swim. I didn't, only because I would stink the seats of thecar which would smell like sweaty lake for eternity!next time will bring towels. Back up the trail. Saw a giant woodpecker fly across. Bright red head. Last climb. This one I took easy and slow. I was tired and ready to cool down. It was an awesome day. Learned much about thoughts this weekend.