Monday, September 19, 2011

Take it... to the limit....

The 8 in the Rough is touted as...
"...a fun, challenging and almost endless course of twists, single track, a bit of wide xc ski trail and park roads. It's not flat, and it's not dry. Pack your energy and have at one of the most exciting, hard core trail runs of the season in Western New York!"
 ...and they ain't lyin'!

Yesterday, I learned my limit.
A friend, and fellow runner, put it into perspective today (more on that later).

But first, here's the story.
You know I've been running a lot this summer, more than I ever have before.
I'm getting better at it, tho I still don't consider myself a runner.
I have to work hard at it - it doesn't come naturally like swimming or biking.
Running really challenges me.

But I LIKE that challenge.
I like being stubborn and saying "no, dammit, I'm not giving up"... even when I feel I'm making no progress at all.

Oh.. and you also know I've been totally digging trail runs, right.  (No?  Go here)

SO, when I was signing up for races this summer and saw "8 in the Rough" - an 8-mile trail run in my "backyard" I thought... hmmmm, might be tough, but might be a fun challenge, something to shoot for.
So I signed up.

I honestly wasn't sure how well I'd do in this race.  I never ran this distance before (5.5 and 6.5 miles were the closest I got - and one was in a rain storm (with lots of thunder & lightning) where I was literally running for my life).
One thing I did know was the awesome feeling I get when I run the trails.  I wondered if this "high" could carry me through the 8.5 miles.

And if the race was strictly a mental game, I could have done it.

But, it isn't.
So I didn't.

I made it to the 6.5 mile mark (I had actually started walking around 5.5, but there was no way out of the race except forward, so I kept moving).

What happened?  My hip started to really bother me.
Yep, the same hip I injured last year two weeks before my 1st triathlon. (I blogged about it here)
It was okay when I walked, but the pain flared up when I ran.

So when I came out of the woods, I bagged it.  I turned in my tag and went home.

Did I feel defeated or disappointed.  Yeah, a little, I guess. 
But more importantly, I felt proud of my accomplishment.  I completed 6.5 miles on a VERY challenging trail.

My friend and fellow runner (who I mentioned above) perfectly put it into perspective for me...
The 6.5 miles we ran on the trail today, equate to about 12 on the road.

This made me really proud of my run.

I learned a few things while I was out there...
I learned that I'm not ready for that big of a challenge (yet).  Maybe I'll never be... we'll see what next year brings.
I learned the REAL reason why I run - for fitness, for calorie burn, and for the trails,
and I confirmed that I'd rather be slow and happy runner (without pain) than push myself to place 18th in a race that really means nothing in the grand scheme of life.

That won't stop me from running in organized events... it's fun to run with others in a friendly competition... but I won't let it break me if I finish dead last or DNF entirely.

It's all about getting outside, being active, and having a good time.
Hope you had some good times outside this weekend.


Scully said...

Nice to meet you, thanks for the comment on my blog! I'm the slow and happy runner too.


well, my weekend outside was inside as i went to see the INDIANA JONES exhibit here in Montreal, before it left...

heal that hip and get back on those trails. you sound quite happy out there!!

if you were able to equal a [ersonal best (6.5), it's a win as you didn't regress. you just have something new to aim for, eventually...