Running again

After finally achieving my goal of completing a 100 mile ultramarathon. I took off some well-deserved time off to rest and recover. I felt better amazingly quickly.

Those blisters which caused me so much misery during the race were gone in a week. I learned many lessons during Lean Horse. One lesson was that the often repeated saying: “All pain is temporary” is true. All pain ends… eventually.

The question is, will it end because you couldn’t take it and you gave up?

Or will it end because you persisted through to the finish and you achieved your goal?

I will remember this lesson when I struggle through painful experiences in the future…. running and otherwise.

I’ve been in a kind of mild “funk” since the race. It’s not depression… I’ve been busy, challenged and rewarded at my job and in my personal life. I’ve finally had some time to catch up on endeavors I’ve neglected the latter part of the summer such as my medical writing, time with my family and time pursuing my other passions outside running.

No, I think it is a kind of apathy related to the uneasy uncertainty of, “I accomplished what I set out to do, now what?”

Should I run another 100 miles but this time do it “officially” under final cut-off?

Of course, I will try 100 miles again eventually. However, running 100 miles is hard. Very hard. It is difficult for me to wrap my mind around attempting to run 100 miles again- even though I am sure that some day I will.

Part of it could very well be mild withdrawal from running. I don’t consider myself a running addict. I enjoy running but so do I enjoy other things besides running. I don’t have a complusion to go running every day nor must I put in a certain number of miles per week to feel good about myself. Running (or any physical activity) is good for the mind as well as the body. For many of us, running is the best therapy for dealing with the normal stresses of life.

After a few weeks off and running only a handful of times in 8 weeks, I decided I’d better start running again more regularly  before I completely detrain. My family and co-workers have even noticed and asked me, “Have you started running again?”

I guess it’s time.

There are a few thousand acres of US Forest Service land located only a few miles from home that I’ve always been curious to explore. It is 95% surrounded by private land and so unless you know exactly where it meets the road, can be difficult to access. The benefit is that because of this, few other people know of it and go there.

I started running along a jeep trail but soon decided to give that up and do a “straight-line run.” I haven’t done one of those for a while. Basically, one chooses a direction to run in and sticks to this direction, running, scrambling and climbing over and around any obstacles that one might come across. Because traveling in a straight line involves some route planning and paying attention to one’s surroundings more than jogging on an old jeep road, it is more like orienteering than trail running.

Some parts of my run/hike were open forest of soft pine needles and glades with tall grass with only an occasional down tree to hop over. Other sections were thick young pines to push through or scattered boulders to scramble across.

I crossed three canyons. Not bringing rope, not being able to fly and not being a rock climber like many of my friends- I did have to take some detours before getting back on my line.

I found a cave with the sides smoothed and the leaves inside it crushed to a powder. It obviously had been used regularly by a large animal. Unless there were some extremely large squirrels out there that I didn’t know about, the only large animal that would be making regular use of such a cave would be a cougar.

I was glad that I brought along something else in my fanny pack to shoot with besides my camera and my pepper spray. The reality, of course, is that I was much more likely to sprain my ankle or get hit by a pickup truck while running along the road than attacked by a cougar.

I reached the northernmost border of the public land. Unless I felt like trespassing, I needed to change direction. I decided to head west to the next property line a couple of miles away. There was a lot of rim rock in this section. 

“Maybe, just maybe I’ll see a mountain lion today?” I thought.

I heard a few people riding ATVs on the jeep road and easily adjusted my route to avoid them.  People who enter the forest and never get out of their vehicles or off of their ATVs miss much. Even those people who get out and hike, still miss much. They look without seeing.  

Other than those few riders on the road, I had the forest entirely to myself today and was glad of it. It would not be too difficult to disappear into the woods for a time and be hard to find, if one ever had the desire to do so.

I guess I was doing my own “disappearing” today, if only for a few hours.

I ran along the forest service and private propery line get an idea of the lay of the land. It was slow going but the climbing, scrambling and scurrying was exactly what my body needed. I could feel my upper body being worked and could feel my calves and Achilles tendons being stretched. It felt good.

“This is how humans are meant to travel.” I thought, “No roads, no trails, no plan… only just make sure to be home in time for dinner.”

I’ve started thinking about potential ultras for next year. Maybe I should try some multi-day events? Running 100 miles was hard.

What would it be like to run even farther but over a several day period with time to eat and rest every night?

My plans for 2011 will depend on what my friends are doing, my other obligations and my willingness to train. This will be the subject for another post.

For now, I’m enjoying the beautiful Autumn weather and running just because I feel like it, not because I have any big races on the calendar, I feel I must or any other reason.

Run well, my friends…

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7 responses

  1. Very nice. I wish I could of joined you on your exploring. Its been a heck of a running year eh?

    November 6, 2010 at 5:59 pm

  2. I wish you could’ve joined me as well. Yes, it has been a heck of a running year… I look forward to 2011 and beyond.

    November 7, 2010 at 11:21 am

  3. I think I have missed a bunch of your posts. But I am going to be sure now to get you on my subscriptions list.

    I can imagine after a 100 mile run having a little bit of a funk and a wonderment about what would be next. I can’t however imagine running 100 miles….ever!

    Your description of your run really makes me want to experience this, but then I remember, that I am not a huge fan of anything that scratches, like briars…or sticks….

    COngratulations on your 100 miles!!!! and here’s to many more in whatever arrangement you want them in!

    November 7, 2010 at 6:08 pm

  4. PS: Lets say I did want to talk to a specialist regarding my cholesterol here in Orlando….. How would I even find such a physician. (IE is there anyone you know either personally or by reputation in the Orlando area?)

    November 7, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    • I don’t know anyone personally in the Orlando area to vouch for them… looking for a member of the NLA (National Lipid Association) who is also board certified by the ABCL (American Board of Clinical Lipidology) would be a good place to begin. You can search here: http://www.learnyourlipids.com/resources.php

      Of course, board certification does not guarantee competence or the ability to relate to patients but it does suggest that at the minimum someone is interested enough to become certified and stay up to date. Being a cognitive specialty, ie non-procedural, most lipidologists would not cost any more than seeing any other specialist in consultation- indeed there are many great lipidologists I know who are primary care physicians in background.

      November 8, 2010 at 7:21 pm

  5. Tom,

    If you want to do an AWESOME multi day race, I’d suggest DESERT RATS or MOUNTAIN RATS. http://www.geminiadventures.com Desert RATS would be my first choice. The Kokopelli was amazing!

    I’m doing Marathon de Sable in 2011 and working for the US reps. http://www.dreamchaserevents.com We’ve still got space if you’re interested in starting your multiday experience with the Granddaddy of multidays (great medical support and VERY generous cutoffs).

    BTW, great article about pancreatitis and hyperlypedemia.

    🙂 Dusty

    November 11, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    • Hey Dusty, great to hear from you!

      I have been seriously thinking about the Desert RATS for sometime, and also MDS. I know a few people who are as slow or even slower than I am (yes, can you imagine that?) who’ve done MDS. It is on my life list. But not for 2011.

      I am very envious however and look forward to hearing about your experience. I may be in contact for advice in the future whenever it is that I decide to do MDS.

      Thanks for reading my other blog too…

      November 13, 2010 at 11:31 am

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