I made a lot of concrete assertions that I was going to finish the Rough Trail 50k tomorrow. Over the past few months I’ve gone from 100% confidence to absolute zero. In this case it’s not as much a matter of lacking esteem as reality checking in and letting me know that the laws of physics still apply.
Kipp has tried to shame me into excelling as a trail runner. It doesn’t work for me. I become violently passive-aggressive and dig in my heels. I’ve suffered enough abuse of that nature throughout my life that it absolutely fails as a motivational tool. I only operate on positive reinforcement. This is not a threat, just an acknowledgment.
The reality check is that as a father, husband, employee, aspiring trail builder, wanna-be writer, and so forth and so on…I do not have the temporal resources to train for a 50k trail run at this juncture in my life. Kipp says it’s because I don’t have my priorities straight. I say they’ve never been straighter.
When I was younger I gave up any kind of career progress to be a full time climbing bum. I sacrificed opportunities. I made deals with the devil…just so I could be a mediocre and frustratingly unsatisfied rock climber. At nearly 42 years old I am not willing to make those kinds of bad decisions again. I have a career. I have boatloads of opportunities vying for my scattered attention. And I have a family which I love dearly that I owe so much to.
My kids are eight and twelve. My wife has just started back into her career and has needed my support more than ever. I owe her so much more than I’ve been able to give. There have been times that I even wish I could be a stay-at-home dad, simply to take some of the burden off of her.
While setting out to run my first 50k trail race was ambitious and perhaps admirable, when it came down to it and my time was stretched too thin to put in the requisite miles I relaxed my grasp on that goal. It was a johnny-come-lately bucket list item anyway. The appeal of trail racing was taking away from my long held ambitions that may actually result in a better career stance or more personal wealth at some point in the future. And I’m not just talking De Niro.
Tomorrow I will suffer through the 22k race and applaud the 50kers. And after that I think I’m hanging up the ole Cascadias. My trail racing career is on indefinite hiatus come Saturday late morning. I will be able to go back to riding my bike because that’s what I want to be doing anyway. I like to run, but I hate to feel pressured to run.
I still have some trail running ambitions. I still want to do a crossing of the Red River Gorge along Rough Trail and Swift Camp Creek Trail. I still want to run sections or all of the Sheltowee Trace. But I can’t live under a timeline for training for big running efforts anymore. They just need to come as they do. I enjoy things better when they come that way anyway. Some of my most cherished memories of the outdoors have been times I just said: “y’know, I think I’m going to go try X today” and I went out and shocked myself at what I was able to do.
I am content in this decision. After the Iron Horse I lost all interest in running. And just now I’m starting to feel a glimmer of excitement thinking of being able to get out on the trails in the morning and just run. I can foresee going out on solo jaunts and revisiting the trails I’ve been training on the past couple of years and hiking for decades prior to that.
But I also look forward to putting energy into building new mountain bike trails and in getting better and more longsuffering on the bike.
The only event I’m going to commit to in 2016 is the Leadville 100 MTB if I can get in the lottery. In all likelihood I will run the Flying Pig half and the Iron Horse again, but only if my wife is interested in doing them. They’re great events and lots of fun, but I don’t need them to motivate me anymore.
I got so close to running a marathon distance. I managed twenty-one plus miles a few weeks ago. It was an ugly run. The twenty mile run I did a couple weeks prior to that was much more enjoyable. I felt stronger and had a better experience. I did it unsupported and had actually picked out a really great route for it. I realized then that going beyond twenty miles for me at this time is difficult. I don’t have the running background for it. I need to put in the miles and pay my dues before I go chasing such big numbers. I’m not ready for 50k.
But 22…I’ve knocked down a few runs and even a race at that distance. I can do this. Of that I have no doubt. For once I’m not already looking ahead to the consolation prize or the next big related scheme. I just want to get back to the routines that work for me that I love.