40 Miles of Lessons from the Road
It’s been a busy weekend. If you don’t know, I’ve been training since January for the Free States Trail Run on April 21st. This ultramarathon will cover 4o miles of trails around Clinton Lake, near Lawrence, KS. As a result, I’ve run more this year, on a daily and weekly basis, than at any other point in my life. This weekend, my regular Saturday and Sunday runs took on a whole new meaning with back-to-back 20 mile runs. Until now, 20 miles was typically my longest training run for a marathon, and it would happen 2 or 3 times over the course of my entire training cycle. Clearly, this is not a normal training cycle for me, and this weekend took that to new heights!
The two runs differed quite a bit in terms of timing and weather, with Saturday starting at 6AM, and Sunday starting at 1PM. In addition, it was 14 degrees on Saturday, with a windchill of 4, and it was 46 and sunny when I left home on Sunday. I should probably be accustomed to the roller coaster weather in Iowa by now, but I’m still left shaking my head. However, the fact that I was able to wear shorts on Sunday went a long way towards making up for the fact that I was covered in multiple insulated layers on Saturday. What remained consistent, however, were the great friends I had to chat with, push me, share stories with me, and all-in-all keep my company along the way. 7 hours of running can be mighty lonely with nobody to talk to but yourself (granted, I AM a pretty interesting guy!) so I am constantly thankful for my wonderful running friends!
In those 7 hours of running, I made a few observations and learned a few lessons that may or may not be worth sharing. Regardless, I’m going to share them here, and you can decide on their value and praise me accordingly, or mock me secretly 😉
1. Friends make the run: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love my friends. I’m pretty internally motivated, but I can always count on that extra push from my friends, especially when I’m on the fence.
2. Hydrating in the winter is difficult: This has been an ongoing theme during my training. When its cold outside, I certainly don’t notice the sweat as much, and although I try, I typically still don’t drink enough. I did better this weekend, but I’m still learning.
3. You can’t be the tortoise and the hare: I’m a very competitive person (for those of you that know me, I’m sure you are shocked!). This often means I push myself to increase my pace, which has resulted in me getting faster. Unfortunately, training for an ultramarathon is all about endurance, and I need to slow down and last! I’m working on it, but putting the breaks on and enjoying the scenery a bit more is still in order.
4. Smoking and talking on your phone means you aren’t paying attention to the road, @$$hole! I almost had a close encounter with an idiot of the third kind, thankful in no small part to his failure as a multi-tasker behind the wheel. Some people need to spend more time with their eyes on the road, and less time chatting on their phones. The only question I have is whether he’ll eventually eliminate himself from the gene pool via a car accident or lung cancer.
5. Running puts things in perspective: I’ve noticed recently that I’ve increasingly had more and more conversations with friends about some very serious and life-altering topics, which has given me pause. There is just something about sharing the road with someone that compels you to open up and share, and not only do I have the amazing opportunity to lend a listening ear, but I’m left with a greater feeling of purpose regarding my own role in the world.
6. Food just tastes better: Shortly after arriving at home, I was presented with a delicious meal courtesy of an amazing partner. She was just “whipping up a small meal” of potato and salmon cakes with fresh parsley over steamed cabbage soaked in blueberry/raspberry juice, and served with drenched apples. Needless to say, it tasted amazing!
All-in-all, it was a great weekend, and I feel more ready than ever to tackle the trails in Lawrence…not a bad way to spend the weekend!