A few weeks back I mentioned that I had numerous topics for blogging that were way overdue. Yes, they are still overdue and the list grows. So, the only way I know to bust out of this slump and get my flow going again is to just dive right back in. I will apologize in advance if my wordsmything skills are a tad rusty and this seems to wander all over the map a bit.
Speaking of rusty...One thing that is not rusty are my legs. I have been a running fool these past months. After heat training for Badwater, I came back feeling stronger and fitter than I have been in my entire life. That was what I had hoped would be the result. The goal was to work my tail off in the heat this past summer and reap the rewards in my fall races. The first of those races is next weekend! Arkansas Traveler 100 in the Oauchita Mountains.
I feel better prepared for this race than any other I have ever entered. I was able to ramp my weekly mileage up to between 125-150 miles a week before the dreaded taper. My body responded extremely well to these increased and persistent work loads. A year ago I would have crumbled under these mileage totals. I owe an entire year of injury-free and fluid running to correcting my foot strike and embracing a more natural form. Now it seems the more I run the better my body feels. If I take more than a day off that is the only time I feel any tightness anywhere. My legs are sinewy and supple in a way I have never felt.
There are harder 100-mile races out there than the AT100, but this will be no walk in the park. Any day you set out to run 100 miles it will present numerous and untold challenges. I am ready to roll on down the trail and adapt my effort to whatever challenges the day (and night!) might bring. I am really approaching this run as a training run. I plan to run completely within myself. The primary reason for this is because 28 days later I have to do it all over again at the Cactus Rose 100 in Bandera. This is the course that spit me out at mile 91 last year in my first 100 mile race. I DNF'd and was in compression boots for 2-3 weeks. I will prevail this time!
How does all of this tie into my running goals, dreams, and aspirations? There are 2 major goals over the next few years I want to accomplish. Number one is Badwater and number two is the Ultrarunning Grand Slam. To get into Badwater I need some strong finishes in three 100-mile races just to have a chance to get my race application accepted. They only take 40 rookies each year. I am going to submit the strongest app I can and hope to gain entry for the 2011 race. If I am not selected I will crew and pace again and try again for 2012.
The Grand Slam starts with the Western States 100 Endurance Run. It will take the good fortune of a lottery selection for one of the limited spots to put me on this track for 2011. If I do not get lucky I will still try to schedule the other 3 races on my calendar, especially Leadville Trail 100. My spirit and soul continue to be called to the mountains. 2011 will be the year I find a way to train and do more races out West. If I get to toe the starting line of Badwater, take on WS100 or any of the other Slam races I will be a happy camper. I know eventually I will get to realize each one of these dreams many times over.
It is good to have dreams and aspirations, but to be fully present and connected to the run I am engaged in right now is all that really matters. My favorite run of all time will always be “the next time I get to run”.Running has given me the gift of health, peace and enlightenment. I keep running and it truly is the gift that keeps giving.