Sometimes the fears we face are not those we expect. The question is, how do we respond "in the moment"?
First, a little background...
Fresh off of my marathon (on 4/17) I had a great 13 mile trail run at "Poto". It was a relaxed effort with friends and appreciated that my plan to take it a bit easy at the marathon provided the desired result - little interruption in training.
The following weekend had on tap my first ever attempt at a double 20. Friday afternoon called for a 20 mile effort at Pontiac Lake - a fairly technical trail with lots of short steep climbs. It was a "success" in that I completed it. But the execution was uuuuuglly! Stomach issues. Dizziness. Chills. Dead legs. Had a friend not joined me for the second half I wouldn't have made it. My overriding thought at this point was that such trials may well occur on race day, so what are you going to do? I opted to gut it out, and am glad I did.
I enjoyed a good bike ride on Saturday to spin the legs and then arose for an early morning, pre-church, 20 miler on Sunday. This was a dirt road run, quiet, gentle, rolling and it was special. Ran 2 minutes per mile faster, on average, than Friday and simply clicked off the miles. Whamma Jamma.
Ok, here we go - facing the boogie man...
Five days later it was time for the next long run. A 30 mile trail run - at night. This would be my second longest run - EVER, with my only longer run being the 50 mile DWD ultra in 2007 (which had no training runs longer than 20 :-) I was ready to face the challenge of limited visibility and to step up to the plate of the mileage. What came as a real surprise was the boogie man factor. Every rustle in the grass or bushes made me wonder, every bend in the trail left me thinking some crazed lunatic would be waiting. Get hold of yourself! I was running a familiar trail and knew these fears were not entirely logical, but they were very real.
The run ended well. My fueling strategy worked perfectly. I never grew overly fatigued. My nerves got to me a bit late when I tripped a couple of times and started playing the "what if" scenarios in my head. The real surprise, the real "take away" from this run was facing down the boogie man fears. Learning to stay in, and appreciate, the moment and push those other thoughts aside. Staying alert, sure, but paranoid, not very beneficial.
Mission accomplished, I think. Guess we won't know until my next night time trail run.
In the meantime, I sit here poised to face down my next set of fears. I'm going to run 45 miles today, on my 45th birthday. It won't be dark, and it won't be trails (mostly dirt road), but that is sure a long, long way. As several friends have pointed out, this goal of running my age should have been something I did years ago!
FACE YOUR FEARS. LIVE YOUR DREAMS!
Press on friends...