I’m about to fly off the grid, literally. Tomorrow I’m headed to South America for two weeks of exploring in the Patagonia region of Chile. This entire trip was a crazy idea thought up by Logan and it’s actually happening! I’m going to another country, to run/hike/explore…just because I can!
I am semi-packed [do you have any idea how much space food takes?!] and mostly prepared. The “where you can find me if I don’t return” email is about to go out to a few special enablers and my game plan is kind of, sort of planned. I’m excited. I’m terrified. But most importantly…I’m ready to be 110% off the grid for two full weeks. Oh, and I hear the scenery is going to be pretty darn spectacular!
I’ve decided I like being one of those weird people who enjoy running in the snow. Sometimes it’s more like “running” but, who cares, snow is fun! If you throw on the right layers you will not freeze to death and gaiters were invented for haphazard veering into snow banks, right?! I fully understand that not everyone feels this way about the snow but it sure is fun to drag snow/cold haters out onto the wintry trails and see them at least sort of have a good time!
That’s exactly what I did with half of my weekend…forced friends into playing in the snow! Because it’s more fun when you have someone else out there “suffering” with you, right?! I’ve never been one to hate on mountain bikers on the trails and after Saturday morning’s run I won’t be complaining any time soon – they did a fantastic job of tracking out the trails for us! No gaiters or traction required in Fort Collins!
I could go on and on about the things I don’t believe in…but I tend to be a bit cynical so I’d probably come off as a terrible person if I did that. Instead, I’m going to wax poetically about something I really do believe in. Trail Karma. She is real, I promise!
First, what is Trail Karma? Trail Karma actually a she, a trail pixie who controls the success and quality of the time you spend on or near trails. If you’re in her good graces the trails will be amazing and you’ll be thankful for frozen toes, scuffed knees and sunburn. If you’ve done something to piss her off…well, then good luck with life!
A few weeks [months?] ago there was a discussion about how much more fun training runs are if you make them fun…almost race-like, but without the pressure to perform, just in case things go awry while you’re out on the trail. I stand by this thought process, especially after my Presidents’ Day weekend of “destination training” in Moab on the Whole Enchilada trails.
On Saturday morning my alarm went off well before the sun peeked over the horizon and I started the drive toward Moab for a weekend of sandy camping, trail running and bacon eating. We rolled into Moab around 3pm, stopped by the Poison Spider bike shop for a new map and set up camp in the Sand Flats Recreation Area. There were four of us making the most of a long holiday weekend…but only two of us were stupid enough to think running our legs off counts as a good use of vacation time. Robb and Kami were there to relax and explore the area while Jeremy and I had big plans to run out/back along a 30 mile stretch of trails the guys knew about from previous mountain biking adventures.
We got snow! Northern Colorado FINALLY got a decent amount of snow! And I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one weirdly excited about it! We’ve gotten snow a few times this year, but no major accumulation [ie: 4+ inches] and I’ve missed nearly every snow day since before Christmas so I was pumped to get outside and play in the snow!
There were big plans for a long run on Saturday morning with friends, but they all bailed because roads were supposed to get bad that afternoon [and 20+ mile runs take a LONG time in snow, so roads were a valid concern]. I decided I was still going to head for the trails for a little snowy fun. My initial plan was to run a 7 mile loop twice…then when I hit my first hill I changed my mind.
I feel like the word “headspace” is kicked around a lot with ultra running, especially when people are referring to a “bad headspace”. Over the last year I’ve heard a lot of advice along the lines of “don’t get in a bad headspace”. I got the gist of what they were saying – to me it was ultra runner speak for “keep your head in the game”. However, I absolutely HATED that phrase. It felt insulting and when someone asked if I was in a bad headspace I felt belittled and judged, as if they didn’t trust me to think my own thoughts. A little extreme? Maybe.
Turns out it’s all in how you define “bad headspace”! It wasn’t until a friend and I got into the throes of a conversation full of constructive criticism that I realized my version of a bad headspace was a bit different from his [and maybe everyone else’s too!?].
I spent my long weekend [thanks to PTO, not President’s Day] in Moab doing some very sandy car camping, roaming around the trails and re-inventing life with a little help from bacon. I made the trip with a few friends and we had quite the weekend filled with bacon, sand, snow and many, many miles. I even got to put my new Ultimate Direction Fastpack to good use on a 40+ mile trek along The Whole Enchilada trails.
In preparation for our trek around Torres del Paine in Chile I decided it was necessary for Logan and I to figure out how we deal with stress…you know, in case something goes wrong in a foreign country where neither of us speak the language. Besides, a little misery training always does a person good, right?!
That is how our plan to summit a winter 14er came to be – we were going to put ourselves in a situation that would result in misery for the sole purpose of making sure neither of us got murdered for being annoying, whining or generally unlikable. Looking back I basically created the perfect plan for my own death. Luckily we were able to convince Robb to join us. And by convince I really mean I said “Hey, can we crash at your place Saturday night? Oh, and by the way, you should come hike a mountain with us Sunday!”. What can I say, he’s agreeable like that!
Sooo…I’ve officially survived my first month of intentional AZ200 training! I am using the term “training” rather loosely as the last month has been a lot of testing my legs + body + brain to see how they’d hold up to higher miles without putting too much pressure on the mileage or terrain or…anything but “get yo’ self out there gurl” type of running.
The results? My body is happy! My brain is happy! I might actually survive training + racing!
Rather than dig into every single run or tally out every tenth of a mile I want to focus on the overall month of running — partly because that’s boring and partly because that starts to put pressure on the performance of every single run I head outside for, which is exactly what I’m trying to avoid. As for the month in general? Here are a few things worth sharing…