It's always fun to talk about good and great training days or races..but let's face it, they ain't always all that! Saturday started out great...felt good going out...maybe too good? Tried to hold back/or at least not charge forward (or did I?). Saturday's training run? 1 hour easy, a whole bunch of steep hill repeats lasting about 45 min, then another hour and 15 easyish. First hour felt great. Hill repeats were tough, burning quads, burning lungs, hands on knees for a few seconds...ok maybe more than a few at the top. Easy back down and over again..and over...and over. Feeling fairly decent I opted to carry 1 gel and my handheld for the last hour and fifteen. I immediately ate the gel, and off we went. I never perked back up. No more fuel, just water and an hour and 10 to go. Long hour and 10. Smart thing to have done would be to go back to car and grab more gels..or...walk a little? Slow down a little more? hmmmm...ego? Ego? Ego was not listening. I just kept wanting to believe I would perk up any time (ahem..without changing anything I was doing). I thought since I had just taken in a gel...but I burned up a helluva lotta fuel on those hill repeats. It's easy to recognize that now, but in that hour and 15 my legs slugged through like I was running in oatmeal. My thoughts were stuck in oatmeal too. "what is wrong with me?"..."maybe I'm just not able to do this"...."I have big goals...maybe I'm physically/mentally tough enough. Maybe physically I just don't have what it takes. And the slower I moved. "what if I feel like this for 50 miles at Leadville?" I'd like to say I snapped out of it and moved past those thoughts. I didn't. I finished in a heap on the concrete, flat on my back staring at the sky. Wondering. It was not until I sat down and ate and drank. 20 minutes later it was like magic. My senses came back and my thinking cleared. I could evaluate my thinking. Tomorrow should be interesting I thought. It is a long run, similar to today without the hill repeats but challenging nonetheless. An opportunity to incorporate what i've learned today....when u feel like you are bonking...do something about it! Don't just slog along hoping it will get better if u do nothing. Realize that thoughts are just thoughts, they only have power when you let them determine your course of action. The thoughts themselves are normal, and expected, and WILL come. Expect them and move past them.
AND then came Sunday. Despite what I knew about those negative thoughts Saturday, I was still quite nervous about running Sunday. Restless night of sleep. It would be another day of running with other runners. Usually my long runs are solo. That was likely part of my problem Saturday...not the running with others... but letting go of the need to prove myself to others....and myself. I was afraid I would feel terrible the whole run and not be able to meet my goals for the day. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up with the other runners and I would fall behind and end up running alone, slogging along, having another bad day. It's funny how we can let one bad day really impact perspective..but it's about what we LET one bad day do. I got out there and met up with the other runners. An experienced and seasoned bunch. Kindhearted and relaxed. One an artist and shoe designer. The other is pacing me at leadville. We took off on the beautiful Arkansas trails at Hobbs State Park. The artist designed the logo for the upcoming War Eagle 50K...you should check out his design, its the best race logo I've seen. We chatted lots and kept a comfortable pace. My pacer in the lead, me in the middle and my new artist friend behind me. We talked about shoes, trails, races, egos, and on and on. It was wonderful. We worked and picked our way uphill and hiked when we couldn't keep a pace we could converse at...the conversation took precedence over the pace. It was the most therapeutic and fullfilling run I've had in a long time. We stopped periodically and drank and ate and looked at the view. I took in more calories with greater ease than ever and I had more energy than ever...At 2 hours ish I was to pick up the pace and push a little harder for 30 min. We hit a 3 mile section of trail and my pacer let me take the lead and my new artist friend took another side trail. I was charged and ready to run! I felt like water, flowing over rocks and roots and twisting and turning. The first mile or so was a slow/slight downhill grade which accentuated that feeling. Then back up, but still with plenty of energy. Then back to the parking lot. I landed in a heap on the concrete, just like I did yesterday...but the feeling totally different. It was an awesome Mother's Day gift.