Saturday, February 12, 2011

Less like a Math Test, More like a Painting

Derrick and I were snowshoe running on some new trails last night. There is something about how the pre-dusk February sun reflects on the pine trees and snow-covered land that gives it a magical quality. It is hard to describe, but the pale colours of the sky and snow meet the richness of the green in between and I am left in awe of the radiant beauty of nature around me. The base of snow is well over knee-deep now, but the trails are packed down by our snowshoes and I found myself feeling grateful for the ten-thousandth time for them allowing us access into the silent woods of winter.

Then, part way through the run my thoughts shifted to feeling the need to train more. I started to feel stress in my body, with the impulse to write up an ambitious plan and muster up the will to follow it as a top priority. To harness every one of my allotted type A brain cells because I'll need every one of them to keep me on track. In the past I have been able to motivate myself to train hard to try to meet particular goals, mostly out of insistence on following a plan like this. When I've succeeded it has been extremely satisfying and I've found out important things about myself in the process that will always be a part of me.

I call it the Math Test approach. It's a logical plan fueled in part by fear. I would be super motivated to work hard because I wanted to "pass", and was starting a long way from where I needed to be. Add to it a powerful underlying need to prove worthiness to myself and it's a recipe that has a serious punch of power if you buy into it. But now that I have learned from this approach (most importantly how untrue the worthiness thing is), I don't feel it is going to work again.

When I started feeling that stress yesterday I already knew that well was dry, so I shut it down right there. I reminded myself that for coming off of a long downtime I'm in a good place and there's nothing to stress about. (Really, why would I stress about my stress-reliever??) I re-focused on the beauty of the snowy woods around me, and felt the stress melt away. I definitely still have goals, but the process of reaching them needs to be a larger part of the enjoyment. Not just satisfying mentally, but day-in/day-out enjoyable physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The metaphor I'll use this time is that of a Painting - I have an idea of what I'm after, but I'm going to be open to letting the final picture evolve in a way that is a lot messier, organic, and fun. Like I did yesterday, I'm going to aim to stay in the moment and let it flow.

I would never say one approach is better or worse, it's just about finding what feels right and being able to adapt. When and if I try a 100 miler, it may very well feel like cramming for a math test again, or maybe I'll find some kind of good balance between the two approaches. There really is good in both of them, and it's not like I haven't enjoyed training before, that's obviously not true at all. It's just that I want a larger proportion of my runs to be from a place of truly loving being out there, not just being a slave to my training plan.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Becoming unstuck in the world

There was once a man who became unstuck in the world.

He took the wind for a map.

He took the sky for a clock and he set off with no destination.

He was never lost.

from Castles in the Sky, a movie not about snowshoe running

Monday, February 7, 2011

First Race Back

I am very happy to have been able to run the Frozen Ass Snowshoe Race yesterday. I was pretty nervous in the morning, not knowing how it was going to feel to try to run at a quicker-than-training pace when I've not done more than a couple of tempo runs. Turns out it was fine, I was able to run at what I felt was a good solid effort. A great way to start back. My left leg was a little stiff and sore right after, but it calmed down throughout the day and as of today feels really good. That's a really encouraging sign.

The course at Batawa was great. It went out for a couple of kilometres at a steady grade up, and the snow was very deep from the storm this week and getting more snow overnight. The new snow made the trees very pretty. We then climbed a huge hill, down the other side, and then turned around and went back the same way. So after that killer second climb (that just about did kill me), it was an easier return, especially with the trail being packed down more. That easier last section really helped me, I think I'd have been sunk otherwise.

It should be an interesting battle for the female series title, as Angela won the race yesterday after finishing third at Frontenac. As of now Angela has 1 and 3 pts, Shauna has 1 pt and Eliza has 2 pts. Lowest score of two best races wins. (Derrick, bring the abacus!)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Time to Freeze the Ass!

I've decided I don't want to live in fear of my blog being haunted, ha.

I'm so excited to be entered into a snowshoe race tomorrow, the Frozen Ass Snowshoe Race in Trenton, put on by Tri and Run Sports. It's been so long coming back to this point, and I can't wait to be in a race atmosphere again. I've been very nervous all week, but now on the day before I'm just purely excited.

My goals are: to have fun during the race, finish the race, and have fun after the race (including being happy with whatever effort I was able to run at and whatever place that puts me in). In other words, go easy on the expectations for the first one back. I want to race a ton this year, and a 7-8km snowshoe race feels like the perfect one to start with. It should be pretty low key, with a fun group of runners from the Trenton area out to enjoy the trails. The race is part of Derrick's Dion Series, so hopefully some people will travel in from other areas to take part too.

I can't think of a better name for a snowshoe race than the Frozen Ass. Anyone who has run on snowshoes through powder while only wearing one layer of tights knows exactly what that feels like.

Derrick giving me a bear hug after my last snowshoe race. Hoping to earn another one tomorrow, because after so long away this one will feel just as sweet to finish.