There have been 325 days since my last race, and I have been asked dozens of times if I will ever race again.
It is a fair question to ask given my absence from the race circuit, but things have been a little busy this year. Life happens, and I’ve learned that ‘racing’ waits patiently for my return, holds no grudges, and my body cooperates quite willingly to get back on track.
With this in mind, fourteen weeks ago I developed a plan to get back on track; a plan that would culminate in a 100-mile week this week (Mon:10 miles, Tues:15, Wed:18, Thurs:13, Fri: 11, Sat: 22, Sun:11). Before this plan could get off the ground, however, we moved to Venus.
Venus has the distinction of being the hottest planet in the solar system with many of the same geological features found on Earth.
My training plan on Earth has specifically not included hot, and has excluded hills as I pursued a one-person experiment to test whether running on a predominantly flat terrain (the running track at the Rec Center) could improve running efficiency, thereby improving speed.
Indeed, I experienced some of my best race times and a personal best at the 10k distance last year. . . and I vowed to stay on flat land the remainder of my career. Venus is not flat.
Having survived running in the mountainous region of Ecuador, Western North Carolina, and even the Rift Valley of Kenya, who would have thought the rolling hills of the Piedmont would kick my butt?
It hurts to walk up the stairs, and even worse coming back down. It seemed surely my legs would break off from my body the first few miles of every run. Getting out of bed in the morning was like un-crumpling a wadded up piece of paper. In fact, my body has not cooperated willingly to get back on track, and the last thing I could imagine was running fast in this condition.
Weekly mileage has hovered around 30 miles, and then 40. . . progress has been slow; my pace even slower.
Research is unclear regarding how long this condition may last, but I can confirm it to be in excess of four weeks. It was late last week, week four of living on Venus, the hills began to come and go without the usual moan, and my mind has begun to wander toward the idea of racing again.
I have finally run to the end of the path on the trail that has become my go-to running spot. There was no rainbow; no pot of gold. I stood at the trail’s end and said, “This is it?” Then I realized, sometimes the reward is not at the end of the journey, the reward is the journey itself.
Cannonball Run. A Greensboro Half Marathon – October 10, 2015
Mountains-to-Sea Trail 50k Challenge – April 10, 2016 (my first ultra-marathon)