I won’t lie. The summer was hugely frustrating. I went through very dark periods of thinking I would never be able to run again. I was angry, sad; all the general hallmarks of grief. But I’m happy to have been wrong. And hopefully I’ve learned something for the next time I have a big injury: my body is more plastic than I’m willing to see when I’m afraid. I can heal. I can recover. It just takes time and work. I’m good at time and work.
While I completed the Cougar Mountain 19.5 mile trail race, and I’m proud of that, it was a long tough day, and I didn’t really have any business doing that kind of distance. I wasn’t fit, I had a bad ankle, and I hadn’t trained for either the distance or the vertical gain. But I finished it, and even though I was second to last, I can call it a success. But I want to be fitter the next time I do something that ambitious.
Which means I need to start getting fitter now. Because we just signed up for the Fragrance Lake 50km race. And it has 7500′ of gain over 30.7 miles of trails. We picked it because it’s approximately local (Bellingham), it’s soon (End of February), and it has a ten hour time limit. It’s going to be a weird challenge training for a big goal race over the winter instead of over the summer. But I’m excited for something new and different and challenging.
So this winter is going to be a long hard slog of long, cold, dark runs. But I’m not afraid. And I’ve put my heart into a long term goal for the summer season as well. The Volcanic 50, a 50km trail race circumnavigating Mt. St. Helens. It’s a tough course with about 7400′ of gain over boulder fields, through ravines, across the blast-zone, and over about 20 miles of treeless wasteland. There’s a 9-hour cutoff at the 24 mile mark. It’s going to be a massive challenge, and I can’t even sign up until I qualify by finishing a prior 50km race. But that mountain and I have unfinished business.
But that’s in August. I have a lot of work to go before I get there. And it starts with 10 miles on Sunday, and then a half-marathon with 2400′ of gain next Saturday. That will tell me more about my fitness, which I know has suffered since the spring when we set our road half-Marathon PR at 1:59:10. But I can work. And I can fight. And I can run.