TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Art of Suffering

Somewhere along my journey on the trails, I lost my way.  It didn’t happen all at once, but began when I was training for Twin Peaks 2012, in the last month before the race with my first signs of plantar fasciitis.  That was just the beginning.  Being pulled from Old Goat at mile 41 was the clincher.  I still tear up when I recount that moment when the jeep pulled up and the driver gave me the bad news.   All that work, all that suffering was for nothing.  But it wasn’t really.  I gained a lot that day, though all that new-found knowledge was not immediately known.  

Fast forward to May 2014, I’ve been making my way back since January of this year when I ran the Calico 30k.  I’ve been building up my mileage, albeit slowly.  I’ve been losing some pounds, albeut slowly (11 so far, but hey, at least the scale number is now going down and not up).  I’m also registered for 3 upcoming races, Nanny Goat 24 Hour (very soon!), Spartan Beast (September) and Twin Peaks 50 Miler (October).  And as soon as I get paid, I will register for Harding Hustle 50k (July).  

And then this:  Saturday, while riding the gym bike, I pulled out my complimentary copy of Spartan Up!  And within the first paragraph realized what the heck went wrong with my endurance running.  I realized that while trying to get through these huge challenges, I thought that I needed to “suffer better.”  By “suffer better,” I wanted to more quickly win the mental battles, stop throwing the little temper-tantrums when I couldn’t summit fast enough, and most of all, stop the sobbing.  But somehow that “suffer better” quest turned into “not suffer at all.”  Ya!  Like I’m going to run 30 to 50 miles in the mountains and not suffer!  What was I thinking?  I knew all along, but somehow forgot, that it’s not the “doing” that’s the prize -- it’s the conquering, it’s enduring the suffering to have it come to an end.  I once knew this!  I FORGOT.  Thanks goodness I remembered.  Thank you for the reminder Joe DeSena.  

Once I remembered that it’s not about the suffering, it’s about ENDURING the suffering, it changed a whole lot about my training these past few days.  The very next day in fact, I didn’t wake at the crack of dawn so that I could get my trail run done in cool weather.  Instead,  I went to church with my family (I haven’t done that in a long time!), did some errands and finally hit the trails at 1:30 in the afternoon, in the thick of the heat.  I made the run much more difficult on purpose.  Imagine that!!  The hills were difficult because of the heat, yes, but I gladly endured them.  Climbing Mentally Sensitive was a bear, but somehow it was not as difficult as it normally is.  It wasn’t as difficult because I realized that the prize wasn’t the actual climbing of this monster hill.  The prize was reaching the top, putting an end to my suffering, and looking out over the miles of trails I had already covered.  It doesn’t have to be pretty going up.  But it sure is pretty looking down. :)

up MS down Mathis 5 18 14

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