I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to run the same race twice. Not because the races have been horrible; there are so many others why contain myself to the same destinations multiple times? Why not instead go see what the rest of the world has to offer, expand my horizons and all those other clichés.
So about six months ago I decided to run the Iron Mountain Trail Run again. It’s the Saturday in Labor Day weekend, also my birthday weekend, in a cute town of Damascus that just happens to also be the headquarters for the entire Appalachian Trail while also being base camp for Mount Rogers and a thoroughfare for the Creeper Trail.
Y’all, there is not a shortage of outdoor life in Damascus.
In May I began training for this adventure. I’ve worked in a lot more core exercises, fast twitching, climbing of mountains while discovering new places such as Crozet and new people like the Charlottesville Area Trailrunners. Glorious outings in my happiest places and the weather always seemed to cooperate.
But I sometimes hate running, too. And this time around I’ve had two setbacks.
Once I stopped running for 10 days when the lower hamstring pull in my right leg went from a whisper to a constant pulling. I stopped running on the trails for a bit to let it calm down but ended up needing to stop all exercise for an entire 10 days. That was tough and I may have gone a little bit nuts.
Another was a perfect storm of booboos in my left leg that finally pushed me into taking another 10 days off.
If you’ve ever fallen while trying to do box jumps then you understand the ways you can fuck up your shins. It’s been a month and I can now finally feel my shin again.
Then I fell slightly while hiking up North Mountain and stretched the outside tendons on the left ankle a little too much.
And then I discovered the hard way what happens when you do a lot of mountain climbing yet forget to roll or stretch your calves – ever. A beautiful bruise formed on the inside of my left foot, also on the day I climbed North Mountain. This bruise was the result of tight calves pulling one way and a tight arch pulling the other way and the muscles in between caught in a game of tug o’war.
Yet despite all this, including the oppressive heat wave that descended this summer complete with cicadas getting their chirp on before the sun rose each day, I am feeling much more confident and capable than I did at this same time last year. Or even before Bel Monte. My head is in a great place. I know how strong my body is right now. I know I have been training specifically for this goal. I have switched my eating habits to feed the performance I seek.
Hell, yesterday I signed up for my third 50m, another short run two months after this one. Mountain Masochist.
It’s kinda funny that some friends are running this race, too. I haven’t offered to keep them company throughout because I know when I’m in go mode, I’m an asshole. Like with Conquer the Cove, I know what I’m capable of so I plan to go get that end for myself.
(This year The Dude will be with me and he’s excited about making an entrance into the ultra life via aide station volunteer and supportive boyfriend. He’s also a trail runner so we laugh at how often we say aide station instead of SAG or water stop when chatting with our road friends. On Saturday he hopes to see me three different times including the halfway point which is kinda nice so I can get my change of shoes, socks and maybe shirt before the drop at mile 37.)
As I lay here in bed on the Thursday night before we leave to drive the 5 hours to the best mountain town in Virginia, I feel…Content. Happiness. Love. Support. Confidence. Strength. Badass.
I was made for the ultra life, I love it here.