Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Running lessons: Digging deep

A stone bench on the shores of Lake Charles
Last week wasn't a great running week. I was tired from a tough long run the Saturday befoe and busy moving into our new house this past weekend.  In fact, I only managed to run twice - 7k on Wednesday and 19k on Sunday.

And I almost didn't run on Sunday. Husband and worked 12 hours straight on Saturday packing and moving stuff from two locations into the new house. Sunday, we spent the morning unpacking and organizing, before returning to clean the apartment we'd just vacated in the afternoon. By the time we'd finished, it was after 3pm and we were both bruised, sore and exhausted. When we finally made it back to the house, I laid on the bed and dozed while my tired body and brain tried to figure out whether they were up to tackling a final long run before race day.

There were two things that finally got me off the bed and out the door.
The first was the conversation I had with myself as I lay there.

"Girlfriend", I thought, "You're going to be a lot more tired than this when you hit the 30k mark in your race in two weeks. If you can't run 20k today, how on earth do you expect to run another 20k on race day?"  "Excellent question", I replied.  

The second was the realization that running to and from my new favourite destination (Vivien's Way) would be just under 20k and, since temperature's were mild, I knew Shubie Park would be glorious in the late afternoon sunlight.

So I dug deep and went for a run.

I wasn't disappointed. As I headed into the park, my favourite stand of pine trees welcomed me. There's something mystical about this little grove. Whenever I run through it, I feel an overwhelming urge to stop, breathe deeply and savour what it means to be alive - to have the amazing life I have. On Sunday, I did just that, taking the opportunity to snap a quick picture before running on.

Late in the afternoon, the park was luxuriously quiet as I ran along trails that hugged the shores of Lake MicMac, Lake Charles and the stretch of the Shubenacadie Canal that connects them.  My ultimate destination, Vivien's Way, is a very special trail at the far end of Lake Charles. (I took this photo as I approached the head of the trail, which circles the point visible just across the water.) 

Though the clouds were ominous, the sun broke through behind me to fill the forest with a soft, mystical light that I savoured on the return journey.

I loved how brilliantly the greens of new undergrowth and moss shone in the early evening sunlight and it was fun trying to catch the sun's rays with my BB camera.

I spent so much time gawking and taking pictures on Sunday that I didn't cover the distance as quickly as I might have done. But that's okay since I'm supposed to be tapering and needed to practice running a little slower in any case. The only way I'm going to survive a 50k trail run is by running slowly and taking more breaks than I usually do. 

Speaking of which, the Wascally Wabbit is just days away now - which terrifies me, to be honest - though, fortunately, the last two weekends have taught me a couple of things about myself that should boost my confidence.

To begin with, I'm in the best running shape of my life. If my next race were a regular marathon, I'm confident I'd have no trouble running it in a personal best time. 

Of course, it's not a regular marathon. It's an ultramarathon - a 50k trail run - which is something entirely new to me and much harder than anything I've attempted before. It's difficult to get my head around how exhausted I'm likely to feel after running so many kilometres on rough logging roads and ATV trails. Hopefully, this past weekend proved that maybe - just maybe - if I dig deep I'm tough enough to finish my first ultra - no matter how scary or painful it feels. Time will tell.

To close, a few quotes to meditate on between now and race day.    
"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." - Gandhi

"What doesn't kill us makes us stronger." - Friedrich Nietzsche

"If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves." - Thomas Edison

“The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win.” - Roger Bannister


  1. Replies
    1. You, as well, my dear. Look forward to seeing you soon!