Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Happy Trails

That's a really bad/trite title, I know, but I can't conjure a better one.  It's my not-so-cute way of saying that I've decided, along with my dad, to focus on trail races for the next I-don't-know-how-many months.

Since I began running (fall of 2008), I've always run on trails pretty regularly.  Mostly because the people I ran with ran on them every so often, and I would sometimes be dragged along.  I've always enjoyed trail running (I have very strong quads and am a good hill runner), but have never taken trail racing all that seriously.  I've run two trail halves, two trail relays (Dances with Dirt--my favorite race ever), and a trail 15K.  Though I've won a couple of them overall, I've never trained specifically for these races.

That is changing, at least temporarily.  As you know, I didn't get to run the Tecumseh Trail Marathon a couple of weeks ago (you can read about it here).  I was very bummed about that, as it was going to be great training for what is my next true goal race:  The Land Between the Lakes 60K.  Yeah, it's an ultra.  I know, I know...an ULTRA.  It's so ultra that I had to calculate how many miles 60K is (37, by the way).

Now how did someone like me, a road/Garmin fiend, become interested in running a trail 60K?  The honest answer is that I'm not exactly sure.  It just kind of happened.  I was feeling spiritually pulled in that direction after Chicago (yes, really), but hadn't really thought about it seriously.  Then a bunch of things happened in my (and Tim's) life that just made it a better fit for right now.  I'm not worried about running a certain time* at LBL, I'm just interested in getting really, really fit and strong.  And, mostly, I'm interested in enjoying running in its most organic form.  That means running to enjoy it.  Not that I haven't been enjoying it since I began running three years ago, but it's just not possible for me to kill it out on the roads right now.  I'm starting a brand new tenure-track faculty position, and have a very busy family life right now.  And, for whatever reason, I want to run and race on the trails!  I am SO insanely lucky to have one of my dear friends and extremely talented runner, Scott Breeden, helping me throughout this process.

If you remember, I had a bad experience with running shortly after Rowan was born (which is why I started this blog to begin with--you can read about it in the earliest entries).  That experience has so radically changed my perspective on running.  It used to be that I thought I was worthless if I couldn't run a certain pace or win overall.  Now?  I'm humbly thankful for each pain-free running step that I take.  I mean it--every time I run, before I start and after I finish, and often along the way, I thank God for my ability to do this.  It's a wonderful, beautiful thing to be able to do.

Now, I still have a couple of road races planned.  Houston Half Marathon in January (we signed up because we want to watch the trials, which are the day before), and of course the Boston Marathon in April.  I'm racing the former, running the latter with a group of friends.  All I can tell you is that I'm going to thoroughly enjoy myself.  Every. Single. Step.

Stay tuned for my year-in-review blog post!

*At the LBL 60K, there is an $800 prize for breaking the course record (which is a very modest 8:40 pace).  I'm going to go out at that pace and see what happens. 

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