You have to be very needy for a long run to enjoy even a good bonk.
Yesterday we headed to Frontenac Park, in all it's single-track glory. Derrick was running with Taylor and I opted for a smaller loop than them, but still one that would take me on a tour of the northern loops (North Big Salmon, Hemlock, Gibson, Little Clear). My hamstring has been feeling really good, improving significantly since Karen and I have been doing hill workouts the past three weeks. I was so excited to hit the trails feeling in such a good place.
Everything felt perfect on this run for the first 90-100 minutes. Even though it was hot, there was a bit of a breeze and I felt amazing, just flowing along the trails happy as anything, and grateful to be there. The green of the woods was back, with trilliums everywhere, and lakes brimming with life. I felt the rejuvination of spring mirrored in my own recovery. The rolling hills that I sometimes struggle on felt almost easy just because I was so happy. And really, not yet being in peak shape for going long feels a whole lot better than the 'scraping the bottom of the barrel' I felt last year. If I had kept it to a 2-hour loop, all would have been 100% perfect. But I was on a 2.5 hour loop, which was a bit more than I could handle given that it was an increase of a half hour for me, it was hot, I hadn't eaten much, and I only brought one water bottle to wash down my gels with. Not being long-run fit right now, my margin of error isn't wide enough to get away with all of that so I paid the price.
It was kind of interesting how spectacularly I bonked. I've had some very bad long runs before, but never, ever, ever have I not even been able to shuffle back, however slowly. This time my stomach was so upset and I was so zonkered I actually sat down at one point. It was heaven to sit down, and I was hoping my stomach would calm down. I had to get back though, but couldn't manage to run for more than 5 minutes at a time before having to walk. Hills were out of the question, I had nothing left. I felt so BAD physically, but still I was so HAPPY. There was no hint of despair, it all just felt good, even in it's awfulness. The amazing first part of the run more than made up for the challenge at the end, it was so incredible to be back on the flowing trails.
I've been in bliss ever since, even if a bit queasy still. I feel like I have come home. When Derrick and Taylor passed me, Derrick gave me some more water and even met me near the end again, both of which helped. But besides that I was grateful to have the run to myself, I really needed it for me. A few weeks ago my Naturopath asked me if I had anything besides running that helped me deal with stress, and sure, dealing with stress is one thing, but nothing fills up my soul like a long run through the forest. Through nature and on trails that are soft dirt from only ever being covered by footsteps. It's undeniably my church, my meds, my cleansing; it taps me in like nothing else. I knew how much I'd missed it, but I didn't appreciate how deeply that went until yesterday.
I know what my Naturopath was getting at: running relies on the body, and is therefore a vulnerable connection to rely on. Injuries, sickness, accidents can take it away in a flash. Still, what choice do I have but to accept that. In "Body, Mind, Spirit" the body comes first, it is of of equal importance. But all the Vogue magazines have it wrong; the beauty is in the function. To me the Body is the vehicle through the Mind and ultimately to the Spirit, and to have use of it is a true gift.