Loch Vale - Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Pride Cometh Before a Turned Ankle
Last Tuesday I joined Lee Hess and a few others for a New Year's Day run out at Greensfelder Park near Six Flags. I've run through the park numerous times on the Green-Rock Trail but never explored the many side trails available; I ended up logging about 14 miles as I did two loops of the Cottonwood and Declue Trails. Although there is a portion that is on the Green-Rock Trail I found that the Cottonwood/Declue loop is much more runnable than Green-Rock; the hills are rolling and not so steep. So this morning when I awoke to temperatures in the mid-60's I scrapped my Green Rock Trail run and decided to do the same run as last Tuesday. I figured dehydration could be a big problem with the temps in the 70's and with limited water available on Green-Rock thought I'd be better off doing shorter loops with my car close by so I could refill my bottles. I've been running quite a bit lately averaging about 70 miles a week as I'm building my base for the upcoming season so by Sunday I'm usually a bit worn out. But today was different, I was feeling strong and decided to push it for the entire 14 miles. As I was flying along the trail listening to Pink Floyd I began thinking, "I'm getting pretty good at this trail running stuff; I think this could be my year. It's almost like I'm one with the trail, in fact it's been a long time since I turned my... AHHHHHHHHHHH, my freak'in ankle!!!!!!!" It hurt so bad I was immediately nauseous and began sweating profusely as I hobbled along cursing under my breath and berating myself. "That's what you get for being cocky!" I slowly finished up the loop and since the pain had subsided a bit decided to hobble out for another one. Of course once you've turned your ankle during a run it's pretty much inevitable that it will happen again and it did, 2 MORE TIMES! The moral of the story is that no matter how good you think you are at trail running you've got to stay focused when running on more technical (rocky, rooty) trails; you're always just one step away from a turned ankle or a really bad fall. Be careful out there and keep your mind on the trail..., Carey!
Racing vs. Running
In 2007 I more than surpassed any goals I had set in the beginning of the year by running over 2,750 miles, finishing 2 marathons and 11 ultramarathons. Much of this wasn't "planned" as I just continued to enter races and run them; even the 100 milers were a bit spontaneous. After 3 Days of Syllamo I had decided to push back my attempt at 100 miles until 2008 but as I was sitting in Starbuck's on Easter I saw the Kettle 100 ad in Trail Runner magazine. After Easter dinner I promptly went home and signed up, exactly the reaction Jason and Timo were hoping for. After finishing Kettle I swore to my ex-fiancee that there would be no more attempts for a while but then found myself signing up for Arkansas Traveller when our relationship abruptly ended just 7 weeks before the wedding date. After finishing one of the toughest AT100's in history I kept myself busy running the Rock Creek 50K only 3 weeks later followed by the Route 66 Marathon and the Green Rock 40 Mile Fun Run before ending the Fall season. This season I RAN a lot of races but I didn't RACE many. Of course I usually finished in the top 20% and finished as high as 3rd place at Turkey and Taturs but it always seemed like I could have pushed myself just a bit more and not left so much in the tank. I learned a tremendous amount about hydration, nutrition, electrolytes and my body in 2007 as I figured out what my limits were and stayed comfortably inside them. In 2008 I plan to push these limits focusing on quality vs. quantity and daring to red-line myself a bit; finishing races completely exhausted knowing that I gave it my all out on the course. Goals this year include running a sub-5 hour 50K (4:45 actually) and breaking 22 hours in a 100 mile race. Will I DNF? I just might but I think it's worth the risk. As T.S. Eliot said, "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." I know how far I can go but the real question is how fast can I get there?
What Do I Do With All of these Experiences?
Last week I touched on the fact that I've been in a hover mode since the breakup as I figure out what to do and where to go next. I've got a few irons in the fire with a couple of companies but it is early in the process and very possible that neither of them will pan out. Both are good opportunities but I wonder if I should do something different; do you know what I mean? I have had quite a life in my short 33 years fighting many battles along the way. I've been at rock bottom and on top of the world, a fat smoker, an accomplished ultra-marathoner and a lost soul; I'd like to think this was all for something. By writing this blog I can reflect on my life and also hope that others can learn from my mistakes and draw inspiration; I think people can relate to me because I've been there, done that. So what do I do with all of these experiences? Write a book, go back to school and study nutrition/fitness to help others achieve their goals, partner with someone to develop a survival retreat program for corporate executives, become a freelance writer or do I just do what I've always done (assuming an opportunity comes along)? I'd like to believe that the right door will open but I'm not really putting myself out there to make something happen. My life consists of a somewhat tedious job, running, reading, blogging, sleeping and eating as I wait to get back into the game. I needed this stress-free, non-committal, life-on-hold environment for the first few months after the breakup but now my biggest fear is that the weeks and months will continue to pass by and I'll be in this same spot 6 months from now. Now do you see why I lose focus and turn my ankle out on the trail!?! If any of you have ideas, suggestions or feedback please share. I'll beat you guys to the first one; patience, I know, patience...
Hope you all are enjoying this unseasonably warm weather and staying safe out there on the trails.