I love the advertisements for Pearl Izumi shoes. “Run easy is an oxymoron. What is it about running that scares people so much? Why do people feel they have to put friendly modifiers next to running so everyone can feel good about it. Well, here’s the ugly truth. Everyone shouldn’t feel good about running. It’s hard. It hurts. Running requires sacrifice and heart and guts. Any attempt to water it down with feel-good adjectives is a slap in the face to those of us who still hold running sacred. In fact, if you’re running easy, odds are you’re not running at all. You’re jogging. So do us a favor, don’t run easy. Run hard. Run like an animal.”
A couple of weeks ago, we (Jennifer, Karissa, Cara, and I) went to a fajita party for The Running Family, the group I run with on Saturday mornings. The kids had fun with new friends and Jenn was amused that all people talked about was running. I guess at most parties, you’re more likely to find social runners with a drinking problem…but at this party, you were much more likely to find social drinkers with a running problem. I was proud to introduce my wife and kids to my fellow running buddies who have suffered and celebrated with me on the trails for some time now, and I was proud to introduce them to my wife. I know it meant much more to me than Jennifer probably knows, and I completely understand that it wasn’t a big deal to her, in fact, maybe on the verge of torture. Thanks for going babe!
As the evening progressed on, an older man whom I did not know approached me and asked, “Are you Kirk?” “Yes sir,” I replied. “I’ve heard about you.” I always start running before the group starts, then I run with the group, and then I keep running after they finish. Most of those guys normally run around 14-16 miles while I’m running a marathon or more every other weekend, and 20-22 on my off weekends. So, I’ve gained a reputation of I guess sort of being the crazy one. Anyway, this man, Ed, tells me that he’s done the Palo Duro 50 mile ultra-marathon before. I was very excited to hear that, so we went on to spend a good 30-45 minutes talking about the course and strategies and training and hydration and nutrition on the run, etc. He tells me about a technical single-track trail in Sansom Park, which is only about 10-15 minutes away from my house. It sounds like a good trail, so I start trying to drum up some interest from some of my buddies. I found a few takers, so we set a date.
A few people backed out, and it ended up being just me and Jeannette, a buddy who I normally run with on Saturdays in a small pack amongst the rest of the group. She had never run an offroad trail like this before so she wasn’t sure what to expect. We met at 5:30am this past Saturday with our headlamps and supplies, and hit the trail. About one minute in to the trail, I kick a small tree stump and do a face plant in the dirt. Suffering only a slightly scraped hand, I pop up and keep running. A few minutes later, I hear Jeannette behind me say “I’m not so sure about this.” If you’ve never been on an offroad trail designed for trail running or mountain biking, they’re pretty rugged with an unlimited opportunity for wiping out. The dirt is uneven, and there’s always logs and rocks and tree stumps and roots and holes to contend with, so you constantly have to watch your footing and look ahead to anticipate your next few steps. And oh yeah, lots of elevation changes. Just as you think you’re starting to feel good, you find yourself powering up a steep 20-30 foot ascent, or trying to ease your way down a steep and winding descent without tumbling down to the bottom of the hill. About 20 minutes later, we’ve started to settle in to the run, and Jeannette says “I think I’m catching on to this.” I kept waiting for her to fall, which is usually what happens when you make a statement like that, but she didn’t…yet. About 3 miles in, the trail markers changed to red, so we knew we were entering the most difficult parts of the trail. I had heard from a few people about this one part where you turn a corner and all of a sudden the floor drops out from underneath you. Luckily, we were looking out for this, and managed to shift our way down the very steep and long descent with no falls. Then, about 50 feet ahead, we come across a deceptive little hill that doesn’t look steep or long, but about 3 steps into it, I find myself in an uncontrollable sprint down the hill. All of a sudden, I fall to the ground and land on my shoulder and roll 2-3 times, stopping 3 inches from a pretty good sized rock. Uninjured, I get up and look for Jeannette hoping she was not also tumbling down the hill. She managed to keep her balance. I walked away very dirty with a little blood and debris on my leg. Awesome! We went 13-14 miles and it was a lot of fun. Probably a little too risky to attempt the week before my 50 miler, but oh well. I guess I got lucky and remained injury free. However, Jenn and the kids and some friends met me up there after our run and we went hiking for 3 hours. We all had a lot of fun – the kids loved hiking along the trails. Now, here it is 3 days later, and I’m still sore. Hopefully I can fully recover before this Saturday.
I can’t believe the moment has finally arrived. We go to Palo Duro canyon this weekend to camp out and I’ll finally get to run my first 50 mile trail run! I’ve essentially been training for this for about 6-7 months. I am ready. My training has gone very well, and I feel like there’s not much more I could have reasonably done to be more prepared. My last 32 miler went exceptionally well, so I’m riding that confidence into the race. I’ll post a post-race report next week hopefully.
One of the things I’ve done recently to try to focus and get in the zone for my long training runs is listen to “Lose Yourself” by Eminem on the way to my run at 3:30am on Saturdays. I do not listen to rap music, mostly because I hate it. However, this song is one of the most powerful and emotional songs I have ever heard. It’s from the movie 8 Mile. I wouldn’t let my kids listen to it – and it’s not a perfect fit, but the driving beat and emotionally charged lyrics are very powerful. It starts out by saying “Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity To seize everything you ever wanted-One moment Would you capture it or just let it slip?”
This part inspires me because my shot is coming up this Saturday…I will not let it slip. I will seize the moment, my opportunity, and capture it.
It goes on… “His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy There's vomit on his sweater already”
Yeah, maybe a little graphic, but put yourself in his shoes. He’s been presented with one opportunity to change his and his family’s life forever…will he capture it or will he choke?
The chorus is “You better lose yourself in the music, the momentYou own it, you better never let it goYou only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blowThis opportunity comes once in a lifetime.”
This really gets me going. When I’m trying to get mentally prepared for 5-6 hours of running, and the pain associated with that, this helps me focus in on the moment. You have to lose yourself in your long run….your moment. You have to own it. Never give up, even if you feel like you’re going to die at mile 22.
Then, my favorite part is when he says “Success is my only option, failure’s not.” That is the determination and tenacity that you must have to finish a really long run. I vision myself on the trail at Palo Duro and what the success of crossing the finish line will feel like….failure, or not finishing, is not an option. I will not quit.
Anyway, it’s a very powerful song. It gets me pumped up and “in the zone” every time I listen to it. I have teared up quite a few times on my way to my long run listening to this, because it is so emotional, and I “lose myself in the moment” of what I’m doing. I am so fortunate to be able to run like this and I do not take it for granted.