Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Hunting Down the Unicorn...
What does is mean to hunt down a unicorn? That illusive creature somewhere out in nature, beyond sight, beyond logic. And when, if, you find it... what then?
Once again I'm in the pursuit of finding out. Unlike the ethereal white horse with rainbows & glitter trailing from it's tookus, the unicorn I seek is mean. 100miles...then 135miles fierce, domineering in stature, adorned with a single horn that threatens to pierce me to the very ground should I actually come upon it.
This quest has translated into training for two races. And two races only.
The Superior Sawtooth 100 September 7th. Multiple events on the SHT solidified the Sawtooth's calling. It's a beast with 20,000 ft of ascent and 21,000 ft of decent & the fitting final straw (more like a mammoth redwood) between me and the Arrowhead135. Which, pending app. acceptance/qualification will be my second event.
The final months of 2011 were the waking from the sleep and the beginning of 2012 the setting fire to the flame. Here is how I'm keeping it stoked...
It's been an unusually light snow year, with melting temperatures often following any measurable snowfall. I was still able to run barefoot on grass in December, run some trail in January & February, I also got a handful of stray double digit sub-zero runs in between that, but overall we've been holding at 20-25F on average all winter. This has made getting the opportunity to train while dragging a sled hit or miss, so the tire I began dragging in October I'm still dragging into March. Not as a complaint, just an adaptation.
(Thor & Me out on a run in November.)
All of the gear I'll need for Arrowhead will mean pulling close to 1/3 of my body weight behind me in a sled for 135 miles. My hope is to have the feeling of that much drag become familiar, almost second nature, and to maintain good form while doing it. I've also got 20k to climb in September just to get there. Dragging the tire (especially on the flats in town) feels like going up hill, THE ENTIRE TIME. It's perfect. So I've gradually been upping my mileage with the tire on my strength focused weeks and will eventually start weighting it.
Last week was one of those strength training weeks. Two days after hashing out 105 pull-ups and 75 split-jerks of increasing weight, I set out with a group of friends on the gravel hills with Thor trailing behind me & a distance PR in my sights.
(Older pic, but same hills.)
When Maggie and I scouted the planned miles a few days in advance the roads were mostly clear, the footing, deliciously soft & soggy gravel.
Then the wind came...blowing the scattering of snow we had gotten overnight into pillow drifts along route waiting for me the next morning. Minimalist me loves conditions like these, Thor dragging me knew it would add to the difficulty and was less than thrilled.
We started out facing into a stiff headwind. Added resistance. Every time I hit a drifted section on the road the tire would fill with snow, doubling it's weight. Each time distancing me further and further from my friends. My encouragers & distraction from the drag. The pull on already fatigued muscles threatened defeat. I wished I had a sled. If I'd only known the conditions in the country would've finally been suited for it ahead of time, but it was barren of snow 48hrs ago. I was reminded of Bill Bradley's motto "Show up & Suffer", this described my predicament well.
In the miles that followed I was faced with two choices. HTFU or Unclip. Allowing myself to even view one of those as an option is like the crack in an egg, all it takes is a little tap after that and everything comes spilling out. Yes, it was just a training run, but the reality is is that building the mental fortitude to hunt & face down a unicorn doesn't happen at the starting line, it starts now.
Saturday I chose to HTFU, welcoming my Savior & Strength Giver into the miles, pushing me, as I pulled, reaching my mileage goal. Bliss.
Is it worth it? All so that I can get here...
Yes. Even if I don't qualify or get in this year? Yes.
Why? Because deep down I know it's what I'm meant to do and my God continues to bless the journey there. I can't explain the desire or the drive. I just know.
"Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. " 1 Corinthians 9:26
His timing, His spirit, My Heart, My Legs.