Recently I finished reading the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed. She decides at age 26 to work hard as a waitress to buy the items needed for the hike, sell all her belongings and then finally, to walk 1000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail on her own. She had a most excellent adventure and discovered a lot about her strength, courage and tenacity. But what I think is most important, she had the courage to get lost.
I’ve written about my wanderlust before. Unlike Strayed, I don’t want to roam or travel because I’m broken or lost, I want to find out what I’m made of, to face new challenges and create new experiences. I want to explore! There is such a big world around us with so much to see and do that being in one place too long feels like I’m a mouse stuck on glue paper.
As I switch to running mostly trail races and eventually ultras, beginning with my first 50k some time next fall, I often find myself thinking how much this will kill my speed on the road. We’re all preoccupied with pace, right? Then I remember it is possible to be fast on trails. And then I think about how I feel when I’m pushing myself to go faster for longer periods of time. Sure, it’s hard and takes a lot of out of you, but ultimately it isn’t the speed that gets you, it’s running 26.2/31.1/50/100 miles which makes or breaks you. Those 50+ mile runs are all about forcing yourself to run when you don’t think you can go any further, it has nothing to do with how fast or how slow it’s done. They are about pushing your Self way past what you think you are capable of doing. That is what I want to feel, a sense of conquering myself, the inside voice that tells me there’s no way I can run 50 or 100 miles. Vanessa Runs speaks my language: she runs 100 milers because it’s the only thing that demands her all.
Boredom doesn’t exist on trail runs, every route has something magical to see, something new to uncover about myself. Nature is a beautiful place, the scenery is never dull.
Zoe Romano, the woman who ran the Tour de France, also knows what I’m talking about. She ran the route simply because she could. That is what I want for myself, to push my mind and body beyond any reasonable limit or expectation. I want to see how far I can make myself go before I can’t go any further.
In 2015, I will be spending a lot of time running alone, various trail races and trail relays solo, no one running with me or waiting for me in the middle or at the end. I need to do this for myself, to see how far I can go just for me and no one else.