Tuesday, March 3, 2015

All the Small Things


It doesn't take much.  A ship's rudder is such a small thing; yet it can avert unholy disaster of epic proportions. 

Yesterday did not go well.  To be honest I’ve been surfing a monster hole in life's rapids fighting to stay out of the mean hydraulic of depression that's been churning at me, threatening to suck me under and hold me until I can breathe no more.  More water analogy.

Anyway, for no good reason I didn't run at lunch time.  When I got home Mandy asked if I wanted to go to the gym and I answered that I wanted to go run at the park.

"Why don't you?" she encouraged.

So I did.  It still felt like trying to bring a boulder to the surface of a lake with just my bare hands, but I finally found myself at the park, out of the car, and the asphalt trail stretched out ahead of me under a sinking sun.  The first few steps weren’t even stiff and lurching.  I took off at an easy lope and picked up gradually into a comfortable pace.
I had decided I was going to run a 10k.  Most of the time it’s hard for me to get in more than three or four miles on the 0.6 mile city park trail.  I get bored or frustrated with humanity too easily.  And at three miles in I doubted I would finish more than four.  Fortuitously four miles ended up falling in the middle of a lap and when I got back to the parking lot I was at closer to four and half so I kept on going to five.  At five something odd happened.
At five miles in it sudden felt as if I had a wellspring of energy.  A freakin’ artesian well as a matter of fact…
I cranked up my pace about a mile an hour faster.  My sixth mile average ended up being 8:13/mi after five miles of struggling to stay under ten.  At five miles I hit a stride.  I felt like I could have gone on for so much longer.  And I guess I would have if the sun hadn’t finally seeped from the sky.  The park has lights, but I wasn’t dressed for the cold that would come with dusk.
I felt better when I got back home.  My mind was clearer.  My mood was definitely elevated and I had a brighter outlook.  I’m not saying I was miraculously cured of my melancholy, but I was a lot closer to being healed.  Such a small action resulted in a major turnaround.
I noticed my hip and knees felt great.  The mandatory rest during the Snowpocalypse was exactly what I needed.  I wouldn’t have voluntarily laid off  running for so long, but providentially I got exactly what I needed.  If I can keep myself injury free now…
As far as the mental aspect of my impending Yamacraw doom I recently read an article that made the point that a marathon isn’t twenty-six times harder than running a single mile despite misconceptions to the contrary.  I think I instinctively understood that, but I had never articulated it in my mind that way.  It makes a lot of sense.
That helps me unshoulder a big load in regard to another big stressor (though far from being in the top five even) and helps me outline a new strategy for tackling my first ultra.  Yes, here comes the proclamation of doomed athleticism you’ve come to expect from me:
I’m going to put in as many miles as I can between now and April 18th.  I’m going to dial in fueling and hydration.  I’m going to remain injury free.  I’m going to continue to go to the gym for conditioning and strength training.
And then I’m going to finish the Yamacraw 50k.

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