I seem to need an injury, every now and then, to rediscover the pure joy of running. On Monday I hit the riverside trails at a moderate pace and my knee held up pretty well. The same old route, but caught up in the third heaven! Or close to it. How easily I forget how wonderful it is just to be able to run!
But my knee has plenty of healing left to do, as I discovered today. I did the Brrridge/ 11th Street Bridge loop for a total of 8 miles. But about halfway through, when it was too late to cut a shorter route, my knee began to express it's disapproval. No pain, mind you, but a persistent protest that was impossible to ignore.
I managed to do a bit of soul searching on this run: the countless injuries endured over the last three years suddenly were all before me, casting an accusing finger. Too much, too fast. Unrealistic expectations. Despite Christopher McDougall's claims to the contrary, I probably was not born to be an ultrarunner.
I love to run, especially on trails, but primarily as a way of getting outdoors and experiencing the natural world. Running, like biking, is a means to an end. Somewhere in between reading Born to Run and getting hooked on the trail running milieu, running an ultra became the end. Injuries resulted when I pushed my body beyond its limits.
Of course it is a good thing to have races to prepare for in order to stay focused. And racing is a ton of fun. But there is no reason to have been so fixated on running an ultra, when my experience with sub- marathon trail races has left much to be desired.
Someday, if my body allows it, I would love to run an ultra. It just isn't happening anytime soon, and that's ok. Time to file that goal away for another day (or year). I need to focus on goals that, God willing, respect the limits of my body and keep me outdoors joyfully running the trails.
How does this new "vision" translate into concrete running goals? Well first off, I want to be in good shape and rested before before Dec. 26th, when I travel to visit the family in Massachusetts. There are some beautiful places to run out there. The Athens Big Fork Marathon is out of the picture, as well as the alternate 17 mile fun run. Unrealistic.
My new Winter/ Spring race schedule:
Feb 25th: Post Oak 25k
March 31st: Lake McMurtry 25k
Besides a few small supplemental road races, that is it. The Turkey and TATURS 25k was hard. I have plenty of room to improve on that distance before I consider anything longer. If, however, I feel ready to move up after McMurtry, I will attempt the Rockin K Marathon in April. Kanapolis State Park was a frequent haunt of mine when we lived in Wichita and I can think of no better place to do my first trail marathon, God willing.
Enough about me, the Arkansas sure was purdy this morning: