Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I've just returned from a 26 mile, 4 hour and 40 minute run in the mountains. It was my last long effort before Western States. Everything felt good and I think I am ready to go. It's a good feeling. A full feeling. I familiar feeling.
However, there is also something sad about it. I must admit, I like to race. But, I love to train. In fact, I think the reason I run races is so that I can train and not the other way around. I know everybody's a little different about this and I certainly don't claim to be one of those "it's-all-about-the-process" types but the daily ritual of putting in the miles on the trails and building up to a place where I can be ready to race is invigorating and immensely satisfying. It's the build-up and the consistency that I find so inspiring.
Preparing for an event like Western States takes patience and perseverance. Every morning when that alarm goes off and it's still dark and cold out the voice in my head whispers to get moving. I want it to shut up but it can't. A few minutes into my coffee and I am thinking of the hour or two to come. Quite simply, those early morning training moments are the highlights of my day. As much as it hurts, I wouldn't trade it for the world. The feeling of grinding up that first steep hill 6 minutes after leaving my house is brutal in the moment but absolutely essential to my well-being.
Now, as I slip into taper mode, my life will change. In some ways it will be nice. I won't need to get up as early. I can slack off on a couple of the climbs on my daily loops. Hell, I can even skip a day completely if I want to! Over the next couple of weeks I will wallow in the fun of the energy piling up in my body and the excitement building in my heart. But I will also long for the all-over body fatigue that is with me as I go about my life, the subtle pressure I put on myself to get a little better every day, and the steady, daily grind of training hard over and over and over again.
I guess, when all's said and done, if I had my druthers I'd train more and race less. Maybe, in fact, that is what I should do.