May 23, 2020
A new motivation
I'll be honest. At the end of February and beginning of March - even into April I was struggling. I just did not have the motivation to get out and my long trail runs finished. I wanted to run, but once I got to about 15-20 miles, I just shut down. I didn't want to be out there, didn't want to push to keep going. Part of the lack of motivation was watching race after race get canceled and wondering if my race was next. After all, why bother with the big mile weeks and long runs if there's no race? It was even worse for cycling - the only race I had on the calendar for mountain biking was Growler and I was pretty confident it wasn't happening due to everything going on. I would get to about 90 minutes and go bleh... I just didn't feel like dealing with the people or the kitty litter.
While the cycling motivation hasn't changed much, I've found some new motivation for the running through the virtual world. Hilarious for me - I used to deride the virtual races as not real races. But there's still the motivation involved in a race as I found with the Moose Herd Madness 50k. I had my medal, I had my bib. I just needed to finish the distance! So I went out and suffered through a 50k I wasn't really prepared for. The heat was a challenge and the last few miles were hard for sure - but that's ultra running! I learned a few things about running that far self supported, which will be really important for the new guidelines for aid stations I see coming. It was what I needed for the spark to get running long again. So I signed up for a few more virtual races, included the Trail Runner over Texas Summer Series. Four races before August 1st, with a special belt buckle for doing a 50k for all four races. Of course I would do the 50k distance! I had something to look forward to again, and something to get me running and training for Silverheels.
I was surprised. I was looking forward to the weekend and getting out for my long run, for planning my route to maximize fun and get the distance covered. The first two "races" were hard - two 50ks in two week isn't something I usually do. Then a shift happened. On the third race, with the most climbing I finally felt good. The distance was like any other long run I used to do when I was training for marathons. In three weeks, I ran three 50k long runs, all under seven hours. This week was supposed to be a recovery week, with no long run. But when I signed up for the last race in the TROT series, I started wandering. Can I finish this before the end of the month? Get all four races completed before June so I could focus on a few other things?
I could. On Wednesday, mere four days after my third long run I headed out into the darkness for a final long run. Would I get the full distance? I didn't know. Would I stay under my 7 hour mark? I'd find out! My legs were tired for sure, but I actually was moving well. First lap done, time to head out for the sunrise. And an amazing sunrise it was. Worth the early start. Just under halfway done and still feeling pretty good. The last lap was one for climbing and working on my power hiking. It wasn't until about mile 29 that my legs decided I was nuts. Not so much a mutiny like I've had at various events in the past, but just a subtle middle finger to my brain. Worth the mental satisfaction for sure!
I have two more short term virtual races upcoming and then an entire summer long virtual event. It's the motivation I've needed to get back to the trails. Will it help for my still planned races? We will find out.
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