Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mental Battle on The Trail

Today's 20 miler up in Auburn was a real test of my mental toughness. Unfortunately my mental toughness today was unfocused and at times unmotivated. That can and does make for a long run on the trails. But I knew going into this run it was going to be challenging, I had already put 40 miles in my legs this week and yesterday's run was no picnic, it was filled with hills.

This morning as I was making my way up to the Overlook, I could feel my lack of motivation and enthusiasm. I just chalked it up to the week and told myself once I hit the trails everything will be right. Only it wasn't. I started down to No Hands by going around Robie. I was only 1 mile in when I started having a mental battle. I was fighting my music, I couldn't find a rhythm I was not happy I just wasn't feeling it and I was becoming angry. Not the emotion that I needed when I am just starting my run. So I fixed what was making me angry, I turned my IPOD off and as soon as I did that a calmness came over me. I also slowed my pace down, as I started out way to hard for what my legs had already done this week.

After turning my music off and slowing down things appeared good. But than not to long later I noticed my energy level just drop off. I took in a GU at 20 minutes, I know only 20 minutes in and was taking in a Gel. After the gel and a salt I started to feel better and tackled the descent to No Hands Bridge. At the bridge I made my way up to Cool, but I was again going to head up K2. I really wanted to tackle this hill today as it is in my next race and I want to know it like the back of my hand. I want to know where the steepest parts are, I want to know where it is runnable I want to remember every small detail of this hill so that I can own it come race day.

I arrived in Cool in pretty good spirits, which is good considering my earlier issues. I headed out to put in a few more miles before turning around and this is where the wheels just feel completely off the bus. I don't know if it was lack of focus on my part, but I thought I had eaten enough, obviously not if the wheels had came off. Basically I was losing my energy and couldn't really keep it up no matter what I was doing with fuel. By this point I had already taken in 4 Gels and a few salts.

The mental battle started and my mind was everywhere, from thinking about work, to home, to this and to that. I couldn't remain focused. I was like a yo-yo and that is a very uncomfortable feeling. But, I know that during my next 50 in July this same situation could happen and I need to figure out what to do to get me out of this. You know what I ended up doing? I ended up slowing my pace down once again so that I could give my fuel a chance to catch up. With that I just settled in and waited, I didn't have to wait to long because as soon as I hit the nice long descent I was feeling stronger and more focused.

On the descent I let my momentum take over and take me down to the bridge. I did have to make a pit stop at the porta potty at the 49 crossing. After the pit stop I hit the trail and arrived at the bridge. Now only 4 miles to go but the wheels once again were falling off, OK the wheels had fallen off and I was once again running on fumes. What happened with the fueling plan today?

With the wheels off I was not in a happy place. One thing though that did cheer me up was a fellow reader was out on the trails. All I saw was this guys huge smile and I hear "Trail Pigeon!" Thank you so much that really lifted my spirits as I was in a dark place. I continued my way up to the Overlook. I ran when I could but ultimately it was a just a power hike up the hill. I was on fumes even though I had taken a gel not to long ago. Again the mental toughness of the day, I couldn't pull myself out.

It wasn't a pretty day on the trails, but 20 miles is 20 miles and the job is done. Not every run is going to be great, but it is what I do with this opportunity today. I will be learning from it. I will be better prepared in my next battle when the wheels fall off. Next time though I will see the signs much sooner so that I can react to it quicker and more efficiently. Life is always throwing things at me and this one I wont let tear me down, but I will let it build me up and build me into a stronger runner and a stronger person. A tough day, but a day where I didn't say stop. I kept moving forward!

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