Inspiration From A Lonely Run

For the last two months I have not only been surrounded by runners, but surrounded by world class athletes. Everyday I hear about another race my boss has won, is competing in, or another hundred miler my co-worker is getting paid to run by his sweet sponsors. I run with the ladies group run, errrrr, I run behind them, huffing and puffing trying to keep up while I hear laughter and training plans they have laid out for their spring ULTRA.

I see a picture of another co-worker on a New Balance poster, starring at me intensely, I know that he helped design one of the shoes I’m trying to sell every day. A female co-worker is a student, teaches spin, personal trains and is training for an ultra, and Ironman and applying to grad school, (aka she’s Superwoman) I hear whispers of the ‘girl from Born to Run’ works there…she doesn’t, but she and her dog come and hang out a lot.

Needless to say the list could go on, I am surrounded by amazing people, amazing athletes and should be inspired. But being around all these incredible people is intimidating. I’m no great athlete, I lace my shoes up, I run, I work out, I like it but can by no means make any sort of money off it. It’d be sweet if I could, but it’s not one of my dreams.

I should be inspired. But unfortunately it’s doing the opposite. I’m putting immense pressure on myself to do better. I’d love to run an ultra one day, I have wanted to for awhile, but at this point my looming stress fracture won’t and lack of real motivation won’t allow it. So what do I do?

I was feeling super down about this earlier in the week. This pressure, intimidation and self-reflection is all put on by myself, these people I see daily are AWESOME and it’s my own issues making me feel this way, FYI.

I think it was a combination of things, but feeling inadequate athletically was definitely one of them. Invited to go on a ladies group run, I mentally had decided that I didn’t want to go, I didn’t feel like getting left behind and feeling bad about myself and my running again. I didn’t want to run at all to be honest.

Some how I forced myself outside and did and I realize that being a lone exerciser isn’t such a bad thing. I need to feel good with my run before I share it with others. I learned this week that I can push myself pretty hard at the gym or on the road when I really want to. Remember that was super important for me to get out the door and feel good about my run.

When it all comes down to it, a short run outside in the sunshine is way better than moping around at home ANY DAY! Trying to find inspiration daily can be tough but I know I have it within me somewhere. Thanks for listening to my rant…

 

Have you ever felt really intimidated by your surroundings?

 

What pulled you out of it?

Yeeeeehaw Parte Dos (because sometimes I speak Spanish)

I run. In the woods I feel like an animal. My kind of trail running isn’t a path with woods on either side, it isn’t a paved bike lane along some river—my kind of trail run is a narrow path that forces me to engage both my feet and my mind; and in turn my heart and my soul are engaged just as much.

West Virginia is known for some epic trails, hiking and mountain biking—from our camp site there was a small trail that was meant for a walk or a hike, measuring, according to the sign, 1.1 miles—not far at all. But if you remember, I’ve been out for 12ish weeks and any kind of run was going to satisfy my itch to ‘float’ over rock and root. I set out to run, I ended up running, walking and absorbing the woods for all they had to offer.

Imagine a field full of tents, music blasting from across the field and then enter the woods and there is literally a line you can cross that shuts all that off. Your senses shift and change as you approach a bridge that lets you cross a stream. You walk over  the wooden bridge and it’s like someone hit the ‘mute’ button on reality and turned the volume up on a nature—this is exactly what happened. The only sounds after I crossed the bridge were chipmunks leaping out of the way, a few birds and my labored breathing. The 1.1 mile loop had an ‘approach’ and the real loop was .8 miles—short but tough. Hills, mud that made me slip up and down hill, roots, branches and logs to leap over…this was the trail running you see in a The North Face advertisement. I vow to never stop exploring and press on through the loop 1, 2, 3, 4 times. Solid.

For the first time I was wearing a pair of shoes that are considered ‘barefoot’ for their intended purpose on the trail. I’d never worn them in the woods, these shoes connected me, forced me to feel the earth under my feet and allowed it to radiate up my body and pulse through my blood. As I finished my run I had nothing but a grin on my face and sweat dripping all over my body, (WV is hot and humid when it wants to be.) I emerged from the woods to see my new friends grinning back, Alan, Lauren, Josh, Adam and Steve—they could sense the joy I was feeling and were rearranging their cars, ready to go hike and climb and inviting me to do the same. Even if there had been time for a shower there wasn’t one available; this was the beginning of my showerless week. I washed my face, threw on some yoga pants and joined them to explore WV some more.

 

Yeeehaww!!

A few things found in DE.

 

Like I’ve said in previous posts, I basically travel for a living. This past week I was in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  This was as far east as I’ve ever been in Delaware and had been excited about heading that direction all week. Because it’s February and off-season in a beach town, hotel rooms on the beach are super duper cheap—so I took full advantage!

Arriving early evening on Wednesday, I took myself for a drive along the coast and around the town, I got a little lost and found myself and finally checked into The Breakers Hotel and took a stroll around Rehoboth beach on foot. Of course I’d done research and knew that Dogfish Head Brewpub was stumbling…I mean walking distance from my hotel. I had made plans to meet friends the following evening at the brewery for a tour and tasting session. But the Brewpub serves local beer, local food and local charm.

Tasty

My first dinner at a bar—alone. I ordered a 90 minute IPA and a club sandwich and looked around, trying to appear less awkward than I felt. I pulled out my book, (Going Long: The Best Stories from Runner\’s World) and pretended to read. Sip. Glance around. Sip. Sip. Food. My new distraction! The bar wasn’t busy, but busy enough to people watch, read every sign hanging on the walls and enjoy every bite of my meal.

The next thing I know a man in his 50’s sits two stools down from my and asked me about my book, asks me if I’ve read Born to Run (uhh, duh, yes!) This led to another beer and more conversation about running, training, life on the road, dinners alone, more running and finally the exchange of cards and the promise to keep in touch and maybe get a run in in the future if our traveling lives pass again on the road. Successful solo dinner!

Lunch at the Boardwalk

The next day I woke to a 50-degree morning, sunny with a slight wind off the ocean. I took off with no other idea than the one that I needed to run for about 50 minutes. I ran down Second St, where the road wound through neighborhoods, across a couple bridges and into Dewy Beach. The storefronts abandoned in October when the tourist left, neon signs flash vacancy, or signs taped to the door reading Thanks for a great season! See you in March! A ghost town on the beach.

 

Retracing my steps, I turn right after the last bridge to get closer to the water. I’d heard that there was a mile long boardwalk: wooden planks AKA: my favorite running surface of all time! The next mile I looked and listened to the waves, heard every footfall on the wood below me and felt a soft, oddly warm February breeze on my face. Bliss. I’d found, great conversation, great beer, a great run and bliss in Delaware.