Less than two weeks from today, I will (hopefully) be done with the final leg of the Chattanooga Stage Race. Training started at the beginning of March. Feeling like I was clueless on how to prepare for this race, I hired an awesome coach — he headed up our trail training program for February’s marathon. I experienced marked improvement in my performance during this training, and I really wanted to keep this momentum going forward through Stage Race. Plus, he has run Stage Race before so he knew exactly the types of workouts I needed to meet my goals. Up until about 2 weeks ago, I was semi-crushing each of these workouts, and by semi-crushing, I mean I was pleased with my efforts. In the past 2 weeks though, there were a few workouts that really got under my skin. One was cut short by an entire hour because I had a nose bleed that George Jung from Blow would’ve been proud of (read the news, that’s a topical reference again). Another workout showed regression instead of the progression I was going for. Yet another workout just felt like crap. I questioned whether I could do even one leg of Stage Race, let alone all three. Honestly, these workouts got me really down (and gave me a ton of anxiety) so I didn’t have high expectations going into my weekend runs.
But lo and behold, just when the trails taketh away, the trails giveth back. Both Saturday and Sunday runs reminded me of why I fell so hard for trail running. Beautiful spring days, running into friends, and feeling like I could run all day long was just what I needed– mentally, physically, and for confidence’s sake. Saturday’s run was an hour and 15 minute easy jaunt through Percy Warner Park. For the first time in 2 weeks and even though it was as humid as Central American rain forest, easy pace actually felt easy. I had to slow myself down at some points. Sunday’s run was my long run for the week– 3 hours total. The first 2 hours and 10 mins were run at an easy pace, and the last 50 mins done at marathon pace (MP). To me, MP is uncomfortable, in fact it’s hard as hell. Even on really good days, I usually spend 2/3 of a MP workout thinking there is no way on God’s green Earth that I could hold this pace for an entire marathon (and maybe sailor cursing my awesome coach, my legs, and/or anything else that could possibly be causing me such discomfort). BUT Sunday’s MP was actually great.. Don’t get me wrong I was suuuuuuper happy when those 50 mins were up, but I didn’t have to worry about lightning strikes from the Heavens above because of my language. So yeah, these workouts were a big deal and definitely eased some of the negativity and doubt I had been facing. In fact, these runs made me realize that for every run that is absolutely craptastic, every run that makes you feel beaten and broken, every run that makes you contemplate quitting every 20 secs, there is a run (or two) that makes you fall in love with running all over again, a run that revitalizes your soul and mind, a run that makes you never want to do anything else for the rest of your life but run. That’s kind of like life– it can kick you in the teeth, get you down, and cause you lots of anxiety. But eventually life can can hand you moments that are so great and wonderful that all of those worries and doubts, fade away. You just have to keep running.