Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How the wheel turns...

On January 27th I tore my left calf muscle - not enough for surgery but almost. Two months off, the first time this has happened to me in 15 years of running. Just when I started structuring my training to be more efficient, faster, blabla... Ha, when I said in a recent blog that it felt like a fresh start, like I was just starting running, little did I know how true that would be. Beginner's mistake: increasing too much, too soon, not heeding the warning signs and bam! not taking that crucial rest day... The doctor told me that if I wanted to limit the consequences I shouldn't consider any racing until Autumn.

So for the 2nd year in a row, after dislocating my shoulder last year, I once again cannot ski and share in my children's rapid progress. Neither can I do any ski touring, which is such excellent winter training for spring trails - and for my planned 100-mile mountain run in April. Cancelled. Damn it! This objective has now eluded me for 4 years - first, by failing each year to make the points for the UTMB (primarily due a) to their bloody increase each year in required points  and b) a far too active social life - now I really have no desire to compete in the UTMB circus event); then by DNFing at the UT4M in August.

And now I've been made redundant, along with 3/4 of the staff as the company is relocating to Zurich. That's pretty much all the way across the country - Switzerland's small, but still... They speak a funny language over there too.

Oh, well. Sucks that I can't run to deal with it, but things must be taken in stride. The Chinese language offers great wisdom in this regard: the two characters used to express the word 'crisis' respectively mean 'danger' and 'opportunity'. And the opportunities I see are: reassess my reasons for running, find new goals, enjoy a rest with the prospect of returning to running with relish and energy, and the acquired wisdom not to do too much too soon - as for how new doors may open professionally we'll just have to see.
(I should make on-site showers and sufficient lunch time a prerequisite for accepting any new job, though I suspect that the (un)employment office might have something to say about that.)

But ultra-running too has provided me with a valuable lesson in confronting life's sucker punches. It has certainly taught me how the wheel turns, that no situation last forever, and that I am capable with the proper mindset to overcome any difficulties, even those that seem insurmountable, by cutting them down to manageable parts and tackle one at a time.

I have found myself chugging along fully charged, only to collapse minutes later in a heap of doubt and misery. Suddenly I am sitting on a tree stump in the dark, legs aching, stomach churning, head pounding, wondering what I am doing there, why I am doing this, four miles from the last check point and six miles to the next, unable to find anything in my bag that I could possibly want to it. I'm trying not the think about quitting, but of course in trying not to, I keep doing it. So at least I try not to enter the downward spiral of coming up with reasons...
Finally I stand up. I put one foot down, then the other. I lift my head and realize that the sky is a shade paler. Dawn is approaching. I can see the top of the mountain - it's not that far. And by the time I reach the top and find the checkpoint, exchange a few words with ever-smiling, ever-friendly volunteers, I'm ready to charge off down the other side.
Perhaps by the time I reach the bottom I'll feel like shit again. Or maybe I'll have managed to pass that point where I'll know I'll finish no matter what. Who knows? That's the journey of (self-)discovery, such an apt reflection of so much that happens in life. Might as well love it since you've got to live it.

So right now I'm swimming, replacing long weekend runs with long weekend swims. Somehow, however, an hour and a half doing laps in the pool somehow doesn't match running up and across the Salève mountain at dawn... But still, I'm working upper body strength and making the Ironman my main focus for the year. It's always been on my bucket list, so hopefully I can even give it a fair shot... All I have to do now is find a bike.
I also still hope to compete in the 100k Millau run...

But mainly I'm bouncing back from injury and cancelled ultras (and redundancy) by looking further ahead to 2016 - and making the GUCR and the Swiss Irontrail 201 my major goals (sure, skip the 100-miler and go right to 145!).

The first one caters to my desire to participate in low-key, uncrowded races; and I want to see what it's like running so far on flat terrain; and having grown up in England, how better way to experience the country again than by running in an iconic race along the Thames?...
The second one also remains uncrowded - and has become for me the ultimate non-stop mountain run, with over 33'000 feet in elevation in incredible landscape.

Maybe job or other commitments will prevent me from competing in my dream races next year. Maybe I won't get in the GUCR lottery... Yet despite how 2015 has started, I'm excited. The wheel turns. Set future goals, but work on them in the present. One step at a time.

No comments:

Post a Comment