The big event that put all other plans temporarily on hold has come and gone. I’m in for Western States. I can now start to put 2011 together, but it also provided a very nice 1 month mental running vacation, that I think I really needed. I only ran when I had nothing else to do, instead of planning my days around my running. I ran 71 miles for the month of November, it’s been good for my legs, good for my head and good for my life.
Now, my next 6 months will be preparing for Western States. I’ll figure out some races between here and there, but everything will point to the 100 miles between Squaw Valley and Auburn on June 25th. I ran my first longish, 16 miles, run since October this morning. I actually ran 14 miles last weekend but it was with friends, talking the whole way. I really think that hours spent running alone in your own head is as much a part of ultra training as miles on the legs. I’ve spent the majority of my 7 years running, thinking that the way to make running harder is to run faster, and I still think that’s true, but I need to learn some new things. I need to search out some hurdles that I generally avoid. The big one is hills. I don’t mind running hills, and I ran some pretty big ones last year, but I don’t go looking for them. And I need to be running downhills as much as up hills. That’s almost the entire Western States course, you’re either going up steep, or coming down steep. If it’s windy, I usually try and start into the wind and finish with a tail wind, I need to start reversing that when I can too. On runs over 3 hours, if Jeanne crews me, I need to have predetermined breaks, like an aid station would be rather than have her where ever I decide I want a break. I’m not sure how it got stuck, but the Bob Seger song Night Moves has been stuck in my head, “working on mysteries, without any clues”.
So this morning I started out with a pretty strong wind at my back, yesterdays heavy rain having also enticed thousands of worms onto the road. As I left the pavement and headed into the Baskett Slough my road companions changed from worms to newts, everywhere. I ran some hills, not big ones, but enough to make me think.
As I was getting dressed to run, I was watching a show about poachers in Africa and the effects they have on different species. Their concerns were the same problems that humans hunting creates in general, that we search out the largest, most dominant male animals. This leaves lesser males to reproduce, which weakens the breed of the species over time. As I was running through the Baskett Slough, I thought about how many friends I know that have chosen to not have children. Smart, strong, healthy people deciding to not breed, while Harvey Danger Lyrics, “Been around the world and found that only stupid people are breeding”, rattle around in my head. I wonder if, as a species, we aren’t poaching ourselves, and why? Careers, travel, not wanting to bring children into a cruel world, “my dogs are my children”, I know all the words, but I don’t know if that answers why. Maybe it’s pretentious to believe that having children betters the world in some way, but millions will be born every year without those hopes, anyway.
As I made the turn to head south at Van Duzer Vineyards, with 5 miles to go, the headwind brought me back to running. I could see rain coming over the coast mountains and figured I should make it home before it hit. I could feel fatigue in my legs during the last few miles, strange to feel that after 15 miles at an easy pace. The oak trees are bare with the exception of moss and mistletoe, by the time they have their leaves, these 16 mile runs through the Baskett Slough will be an easy day, and Western States will be getting close.