This Open Road

A season walking southbound on the Appalachian Trail

Love of the Run

“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.”

-William James

 

If I can’t be backpacking in the mountains right now, I’ll run.

Actually, I’d run anyway, as I always have on a regular basis. It’s my therapy, my happy activity, the thing that grounds me, clears my mind and soul, and resolves most issues when they start swirling around in my brain.

I’m grateful for a strong body and I want to keep it on this side of its limit, pursuing health and endorphin-releasing bliss. And so I run.

I run to maintain this strength and to see how much further I can go. I run because I can and I want to. I believe in moving toward what calls and honoring the butterfly excitement that flutters right here when I’m being summoned to the next goal.

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When running beckons, I go. And lately the call has been more intense than ever. I’m a morning runner, and sometimes I’ve been so excited to run, I’ve had trouble going to sleep the night before. I need new challenges, a place to direct this heightened energy. So, I signed up for a marathon, one to be run sooner than I adequately have time to train for. But I didn’t want to wait. And I’m not coming off the sofa – I have a solid base, and now just have to focus on increasing my weekend long runs. The race will be in Morgan, Utah, which sits at a much lower elevation than Laramie, so I’m hoping that element will be a trade-off for a short training season.

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For the last few weeks I’ve been increasing my time on my weekend long runs. Yesterday I ran for 2:45. It hurt in a deep and cathartic way, and I spent the rest of the day adjusting to the stress, stretching and resting. Transformation happens in a long run. I’m not exactly sure how yet, as I’m approaching this training in a new way. In the past (I’ve run two marathons and 15+ half marathons), I’ve fought my way through the long run, desperate for the end. Now, I welcome the struggle. There cannot be progress or growth without going past the next wall.

Yesterday, I talked my way through this new territory: This is good; Okay, here we go; We’re doing this. Then, my body rebelled and tried to be the boss: Are you kidding?! Stop now! I did for short bits, to stretch out the tightness. But then we were off again, pushing through the discomfort and getting tough.

During this rough patch, a couple who had passed me earlier on their bicycles, passed me again on the way back to town. They hollered, “Hello, again!” and “Looking good!” This brief encouragement gave me the shot of motivation I needed and helped me lighten my step and straighten my back.

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By the time I got home, I knew I’d gone beyond my limit. I knew this was a good thing and I’d recover. But I felt oddly disconnected from my emotions, except for some inexplicable irritation. I ran slower than my usual time, but I had done what I could do, running to the edge of my ability for this day, and I was not frustrated at that. I couldn’t understand why I was annoyed. As the day ebbed, so did my angst. I believe this emotional dip correlated to my physical exertion. Both settled out eventually.

Today I went for a long hike for some cross-training (where I took the pics for this post). It was over easy ground with minimal inclines. It felt good to walk out the residual soreness from yesterday’s run. Tomorrow is a rest day, a respite before the next day’s shorter but faster run. I’m already excited.

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Wondering if there’s an ultra in my future…

14 responses to “Love of the Run

  1. Dad June 23, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    OK, thanks to a “heads up” from Uncle Dan at lunch today, I’m now caught up on all of your posts. BTW, do I still get partial credit for getting you started on running <:-)?

    • Robyn June 23, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      Yes, you get role model credit, for sure! I took my first lap around the Bell H.S. track in my wimpy white tennis shoes after watching you run there for years. Since then I’ve worn out many pairs of (real) running shoes.

  2. Jamie June 23, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Row Bean. What a remarkable woman you are. I love your attitude, your motivation, your drive and your sense of adventure. In short, you da bomb.

  3. Mom June 23, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Excuse me, darling, but what’s an “ultra?” Should I be worried?

    • Robyn June 23, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      Haha. An ultra is a race that is technically any distance over 26.2 (marathon), but many consider a true ultra to be 50 miles or more. There are 50k- (31 miles), 100- and 135-mile races (the famous Badwater Ultra (google it)). The Leadville 100 is a famous ultra. Nope, don’t need to worry. :)

  4. kari June 23, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    greatest photo of you ever

  5. Uncle Dan June 23, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Great post — what is you usual pace? When I ran my only marathon many years ago my goal was 4 hours — I finished in 3:59………………..

    • Robyn June 23, 2014 at 10:55 am

      Thank you. My “usual” pace is 8:20+/mile. But lately and with longer runs, it’s been 9+. Have to do better than that for this marathon. I’m hoping to qualify for Boston and must run under 4:00 for my age group. When I ran my last marathon in 2007 I barely qualified (:37 but didn’t run Boston).

  6. cowsinbruges June 22, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    I really really like this post. I love reading about your travels, but I really like how personal this post is. Keep up the good writing (and running, of course). You are very inspirational :)

  7. brickthomas June 22, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    I enjoyed reading about the mind/body connection. Before long I bet your mind and body will ask for an ultra and you won’t be able to say no to the adventure. Have fun and stay healthy.

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