The subtitle for my blog boldly declares the following:
A repository for thoughts, reports, pictures, and opinions about going vertical.
However, I haven’t really climbed since my ice climbing adventures to Switzerland and Canada in February and March, unless you count my Memorial Day Weekend misadventures in Washington. Oh, I’ve tied in at the climbing gym a few times, and I have lapped a few familiar pitches at Taylor’s Falls, but the desire just isn’t there right now. I know the reasons – there are two of them, and they’re both personal and likely wouldn’t be considered rational by most. The last few times I’ve thought about packing my rope and rack for a day of jamming and crimping, I either felt nauseous or my eyes starting misting. I know myself well enough not to force it, and I needed a distraction in the meantime…something to keep me busy, un-fat, and something that gives me time and space to think.
BASE jumping was an option, but I don’t have the money for it right now. I’m SCUBA certified and there is some great diving in Lake Superior, but that’s not a great hobby for maintaining physical fitness. Mountain biking would require a financial investment that I don’t want to make at this point, so I settled on training for and running a race. Well, actually a marathon. An ULTRA-marathon. A goddamned thirty-one mile trail run on October 24th.
Here’s the problem: I’ve never run a race before, and I hate running.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the runner’s high after a long run, and I really appreciate the scenery when I’m running with (and slightly behind) an attractive female partner. I’m in decent shape, and I can fire off six miles without trying too hard. But the act of running itself? I hate it. I get bored easily, and I can’t stand listening to music when I run – it messes with my pace. I have rickety knees already, and I’m not sure what a three month training plan and a fifty kilometer trail run is going to do to them.
I wasn’t going to sign up for it at all, but then I had a bit of an epiphany. Don’t laugh, but this thought came while I was reading The Oatmeal’s excellent comic book The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances. He talks in the book about running being a form of practiced stoicism, and how the pain lends perspective to the problems and complications of everyday life. He writes about running to the point where the world seems to stand still and questions of why seem to melt away into insignificance.
The last few months have been wonderful in ways, but completely shitty in others. I lost two people I love dearly, one to death and one for reasons I still can’t understand fully. I could use some perspective, and some silence from the constant internal barrage of self-doubt and questioning. I crave clarity, and when I run the pictures seem a little less fuzzy. Things seem simpler, clearer, more decipherable. Maybe this is a knee-jerk reaction, and maybe I won’t even finish the damn thing. But I’ll pass out on the trail trying, and who knows – maybe I’ll find some answers along the way.
Sidenote: I know some of you are distance runners, and I clearly am not. Any tips or advice on training, pace, nutrition, cross-training, injury prevention, hydration, etc. would be greatly appreciated.