The Beauty of Inspiration.
When I’m at my best, I’m pretty good. I’m not always at my best though, I’ve found that I usually need some specific ingredients to get into that zone. I usually do grind out 15-20 miles per week during my lunch break.These are the utilitarian runs, on the sidewalk, in an average town on our substandard sidewalks, surface streets and the occasional section of trail I can sneak in. These miles are done around noon, I’m usually not super amped for a 4-7 mile run in the midday sun, knowing that I’m going to finish up and have hours of desk bound monotony left in my day. But what I can do is draw inspiration for these runs by looking at the big picture.
Take a Thanksgiving meal for example, I’m going to have to tolerate some family members I could go for years without missing hearing from. I’m probably going to have to wash a never ending load of dishes. I might have to listen to some of the most asinine opinions I’ll hear outside of my Facebook feed. I might have to eat some dishes that I’m not a fan of… but eventually I’ll get to the meat of the meal. I’ll get the gravy, the mashed potatoes, the turkey, some stuffing, some pie underneath a massive pile of whipped cream and I’ll work myself into a food coma that helps make my weight chart look like a mountain ultra elevation profile.
Those slightly miserable midweek miles are the conversations I don’t want to have, the dishes I don’t really want to eat and the places I’d rather not be. But they help get me to where I need to be, I need consistency and with a full time desk job, family and the demands on time that we all have lunch is probably the best option I have, unless I was enough of a badass to wake up at zero dark thirty, drive 20 minutes to a cold, dark trailhead, do an hour of hard running work before sunrise and then drive back home in time to help get kids ready and going to their various schools and me off to work. Here’s a hint: I’m not a badass like that, I like sleeping, so midday miles is the best I can do until that lottery ticket hits.
Because those somewhat monotonous midday miles get me ready to be out on trails on the weekends. They get me strong enough to go run long enough to forget everything except the mechanical motion of taking that next step until I’m done. Those lunchtime escapes from my desk also help get me into good enough shape to get deep into the mountains, which I’ll do at the drop of a hat. Those milquetoast miles help ensure that I’m almost always physically ready to join a friend (please feel free to invite me) to run Rim 2 Rim (and lets add another Rim for good measure) at a moment’s notice. Those miles keep me ready for my beloved mountains.
Last weekend I did a self supported 50k, crossed a couple good sized creeks, accumulated a bit over seven thousand feet of elevation gain and ran through a hail storm just for a little extra spicy fun. For me these are the easy things to draw inspiration from, long hard runs, miserable weather and great views. I like hard climbs to beautiful views, easy short stretches to beautiful views too, good songs on my playlist, an interesting podcast, some competition from other runners or myself. I’ve got myself trained so well that I have a near pavlovian response just sitting here thinking about my favorite combo; the Hamilton soundtrack and some soft tree lined singletrack trails, I’m nearly drooling just thinking about it.
That inspiration is what I need when I hit the bottom of my emotional tank at mile sixty of a hundred. That beautiful inspiration is what I need to help keeping me moving forward in this ridiculously difficult sport that I love. That internally initiated inspiration is what keeps me going in the cold, dark middle of the night, long after my A, B and C goals have slipped away from me in a race. I’ll use this intrinsic inspiration to keep me going up Telescope Peak after my legs have given up, I’ll keep that fire lit on the downhill while my quads are quivering in a state of near failure after 20 miles and 10k feet of gain when I get to bomb the downhill that I just climbed up.
My inspiration is easy, I’m not picky. Give me a positive partner, a sweet section of singletrack, a challenging climb or wintry weather and I’m happy as a clam. Sometimes in the dark places of long distance endurance events, I just need a little help remembering this.
In other more follow up based news, I did the trail test route that I mentioned a couple updates ago (https://www.orangemud.com/blogs/orangemud/adventure-project-josh-grant-update-1) and killed it. It’s been about six great weeks of training since I did that last, and I cut 33 seconds off my pace and almost 5 minutes off my total time. This was the third fastest I’ve ever done that route and I think with another six weeks like I just had I’ll be able to beat my best time. I’ve also blown up the elevation goal that I was talking about during my last update by wrapping up March with 24,997 feet of gain this month. I should really just head out for a quick run to grab those extra three feet, my OCD is tingling with it sitting like that.
In April, I’m going to run my first race since the last time I raced which was the Quicksilver 100K almost a year ago. The only reason that’s significant, aside from being funny to say, is that my last race is where I got hurt and sidelined last year. I also picked up an additional 20 extra lbs that I’m still working off due to that. So this race, American River 50 will be a good mental checkpoint for me to pass through, and the weather right now is looking downright stormy, mid to high 50’s, windy and a 60% chance of rain all day. What can I say, Marines love misery, it reminds us of home.