coming back, slowly

Today I put on my running shoes and headed up to the Perch. Nothing special. I’ve completed this 6-mile route around 300 times in the last 3 years. But this time was a little different. It’s been a full month since I crested the hill above the “A”, overlooking Horsetooth Reservoir.

I haven’t ran or jogged or really moved in an “exercising kind of way” in three weeks. Not since I crawled to the finish line in Leadville. The first week or so after the race I really couldn’t move in an exercising kind of way, but by Labor Day weekend, I started to get “the Itch” again. My legs started to twitch, which in “leg language” translates into something similar to that of Maya (our dog) growing restless for her dinner. There’s pacing, nosing, whining. My legs do the same thing. “Can we go now? How ’bout now? Nooowww??” Problem is of course, that while my legs were recovered, my feet were still healing and my energy was quite low. Until this past Thursday. It was the first day that I noticed a little pep-in-the-step, a little “yhip! here we go!” I pedaled down to the Co-Op with a little more ease, and enjoyed pushing the pace a bit on the way home. But I gave myself another couple days–better to rest than to rush into things.

Other than some creaking and a little pain in my knees, my body responded well. It felt good to sweat again. The last few weeks have given me plenty of time to digest and ponder what happened in Leadville, and I’m now ready to move on. I’ve gotten the question “So what’s next?” a bunch, and the downtime has also given me a chance to ponder the next adventure. The simple idea of running in the mountains excites me, and will keep me ‘twitching’ so that I continue running. But that only goes so far. Though it’s hard to admit, I have, at least up ’til now, required a “goal race”, something to shoot for, plan for and work toward. It gets me out the door when I just don’t wanna. Part of training and, with some humility, being in decent shape this past summer, is that I don’t want to lose it now that my big goal race is done. Also, staying in shape allows me to consider and participate in some spontaneous adventures. Adventures that require in-shaped-ness and some endurance. But this also needs to be tempered with the reality that I need to take things slow.

My goal right now, while I think of future goals and adventures, is to spend the rest of 2014 running and cycling and playing in the mountains; exploring new trails and routes and seeing what other (shorter!) races might catch the eye. For starters, my ol’ buddy Mick and I are putting some plans together to meet at the Grand Canyon and run the somewhat-infamous Rim-to-Rim route (North Rim to South Rim in one day; ~22 miles and ~5,500′ of climbing) sometime in late October. That’ll get me runnin’ again. After that, I get to crew for my main man Andrew at the Moab Marathon in November.

2015 will be an interesting year for us, and there are lots of different adventures I’d like to give a-go. First on the list would be a 8-10 day hiking trip through the Highlands in Scotland (May? Kelsea? :)), with maybe some new 50k or marathon-length trail races in the spring before that. I’d love to try the Quad Rock 50 again (of any race I’ve done, this is the one which gives me the “unfinished business” feeling, but only because it’s been so difficult for me to do well there), but we’ll see. As for another 100, I’m not sure. Run Rabbit Run 100 (Steamboat Springs) is directed by some cool dudes, and is run in mid-September when the aspen leaves are bright orange and yellow. It’s also where I finished my first ultra marathon (the 50), and I’d love to go back for the 100 at some point. The other interesting thing about RRR100 is that, because of it’s climbing (A LOT) and elevation (7-11,000′ asl) and it’s environmental integrity, it is a qualifier for the biggest, baddest, craziest 100 of them all: the Hardrock 100 in the San Juan mountains of Colorado. Perhaps this is both a bit too much to bite off just yet, as well as planning too far ahead. But it’s percolating.

Then, if I’m honest, there’s always the pull to go Home. When I topped-out at the Perch this afternoon I looked west and, in my mind, could still see it:

hope pass

hope pass, without the llamas

I would always go back to Leadville again. There’ve been moments the last three weeks where I still, even though I know that I finished, I still don’t think (present tense) that it’s possible. Perhaps it was all just a dream.

Either way, it’s time to start runnin’ again.



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