"I don't have to like it. I just have to survive it"
Yes, what you've been seeing on my Instagram is true: I started running. Lots of running. Now that it's official I thought I'd share with y'all why: I'm registered for the Chuckanut 50K — a 31-mile, hilly AF trail run in the middle of March. I'm told it's "legit hard" and well, I have never been one to say no to a challenge. Plus, it's held on a day before my 32nd birthday. Running 31 miles on my last day as 31-year-old: it was too symbolic not to! Go (Ultra) big or go home.
Entry 1: Getting Out of the Door is the Hardest Part
By the time 5 o'clock rolled around it was pitch black outside. It was also dumping rain, a fog was rolling in and, combined with the gusty wind, those were all the reasons needed to have a nice night in. But I had six miles to run and so I was desperately trying to muster up some motivation.
"Do you even enjoy running?" my mom had asked over the phone a few weeks back when I told her about my latest undertaking.
I had officially put an end to my bike racing this spring. Following a saddle-related surgery, a bike crash and a run-in with a car over the course of just seven months, it just wasn't worth it anymore.
Still, I couldn't quite make peace with the thought of not having anything to train or work toward this winter. No long base-miles in the rain. No looming race season ahead. So, foolishly, I decided to take on a new challenge. A friend's nudge was all it took, and the next thing I know I am buying some running shoes and have committed myself to hilly AF 50K (31 miles) trail running race in the middle of March.
I have never been a runner and the truth is, I don't actually enjoy it. It hurts, it's slow, it feels like a task and it's just hard. After 30 years of playing a tad too hard, my knees are in a sorry state and can barely keep me upright while running. They protest every step along the way and I'm so sore and stiff post run that my gait makes an 80-year-old look spry.
"So why do it?" my mother was right to ask.
The challenge, of course!
I don't like running, but I have never been one to shy away from a challenge. I have never even done a basic marathon, but nearly a month into training, I am running four times a week, and my long runs have already surpassed the distance of a half. Plus, running on trails and in nature is much easier on the mind and body than running on the road.
Still, looking through the rain-spattered window this evening, I needed to dig deep.
Cycling has never been that way for me. Riding bikes is pure love and enjoyment for me. Sure, training can be hard and I have complained endlessly about riding in miserable conditions, but I have never stopped loving bikes. I've never even wanted a break from them. And on every run I've done thus far I found myself wishing I were on a bike instead.
But I committed myself to this challenge and I will see it through, damnit. So I played some loud music. I shuffled through some EDM, some rock, some Pop. I jumped and danced and did a lot of self-talk. And when I finally laced up my shoes and got outside, it wasn't so bad.
OK, that's a lie.
The weather was thoroughly unpleasant, everything still hurt from my last run, and there were huge unavoidable puddles everywhere — and if there's one thing I dislike on the bike, while running or in general really, it's soggy socks.
But from my years of miserably wet base-mile rides, I knew I just had to make it through that first mile. With a good pace (and an even better jacket), you warm up quickly and while wet, I wasn't at all cold and the exercise-induced endorphins soon kicked in. It wasn't so bad after all. I clocked 6.5 miles, climbed up my favorite local hill, and may have even enjoyed myself. A little.
It's getting out of the door that's the hardest part.