Sunday, August 03, 2014

Rising from ashes

I last raced an event of any distance two years ago. It was my only DNF of my long distance triathlon career. 13.1 miles to go, torn calf muscle, end of story.

Strings of injuries, long bouts with depression, numerous attempts to drive forwards again either professionally or athletically have made for some challenging times. And somewhere along the line I stopped forcing it. I became resigned to being on a very difficult consulting engagement for ever. I became resigned to never again being a competitive athlete. Instead I tried to just find a little bit of solace out on the roads or trails from time to time, and an attentive Dad to my kids and mentor to my employees. And I resolved to find enjoyment again in something simple like running, my first athletic love.

That was late March 2014, almost a year to the day from when I tore up my right foot running in slush and mud. But this year I was whole, albeit slower. I noticed online that the Ragnar Cape Cod entries were closing in a day or so. And on an impulse I put up a post asking if anyone needed a runner. Any distance. Any kind of team. I just wanted to be a part of something again. There were a number of responses, and for no reason other than she replied to my message first, I went with the group organized by Jenn McLaughlin. What a perfect fit, at least for me (my van-mates may have other thoughts!) Totally random, but in retrospect seemingly by design. And in that weekend I rediscovered joy on the roads. I did some fast-ish running at times, but far and away my favorite run was the leg I ran with van captain Roselle Flannagan. It was so peaceful.

Since that weekend I've been running more and more, farther and farther. I still have moments where I'm disappointed that I'm no longer as fast as I once was. But yesterday that disappointment was replaced by a different realization, and really that realization is the inspiration for this post.

I'm 48yrs old, and for the first time in my life I covered ~70miles in a week of running. I ran high teens mileage on consecutive days (18 and 20 actually). I logged my longest training run ever yesterday, 26miles. Yes I've run farther, but always in competition, never in training, and really no more than 1/2 mile farther. And I've done all this while remaining healthy. The secret? I've slowed way down! I just run for time, not pace. It allows bad days to be not so bad. And all this as I prepare for some new firsts. In two weeks I'll run my first ultra, the TARC Summer Classic 50k. My time may suck but I expect to finish and you know what? If I finish it'll be a PR! 48yrs old and still setting PRs! And then at the end of September, 50miles on Vermont trails at the Vermont 50. I'm still having trouble even wrapping my head around the distance. But if I finish, another PR! Pretty exciting!

The machine may have broken 2 years ago, but I'm okay with what's emerged. More than okay, actually. I'm having fun and have some wonderful new friends.