This post was written back in May, but for reasons due to technical issues with my website and many time constraints, I have only recently managed to get it live. Much has happened since this post was penned, as I DNF’d (did not finish) at San Diego 100 and pushed on to run a redemption run of my own making in the weeks that followed. As I unlayer the stress and intensity of such high volume training, I am finding my writing is returning. There will be more soon! But for now, here is where I have been…
I am not even sure where to begin. I have been silent recently. I haven’t written anything in months. When I started this blog I fully intended to write regularly, post at least every other week. And I did for several months. Even when I didn’t feel like I had anything to say, I made myself sit down and write a little each week. After a few false starts a topic would just “fit” and the blog post would pour out, as if it was already written in my head and my fingers just had to find the right trigger to pull out the words. Writing wasn’t always easy, but it was fun, and I found I craved my writing time. It was comfortable to carve out time to write, I needed the outlet, and I relished the process.
And then in January I signed up for the San Diego 100, a race through the mountains outside San Diego that will be held in June. I was starting to feel the itch to race again, and I knew I wanted another shot at a hundred, a “real” hundred, one with mountains and climbing and technical trails. A friend of mine was considering the race, and the June time frame seemed ideal. It would mean my training would be over before my son was out of school, no sweltering training runs in 100+ degree heat, no juggling schedules to fit in a long run between summer camps. I could train through the spring, run the race, and then be free to enjoy summer with my boy with no pressures of training schedules and workouts. I had also already planned to race the Tinajas 100k in March, which seemed a perfect stepping stone to a June hundred. So after getting the thumbs up from my ever supportive husband, I sent in my registration with my qualifying hundred finish time, and shot a text to my coach about the “slight” addition to my spring training plan.
In the early weeks of training, my mileage was low enough I still found time to work, write, run, and be a mom and wife. But that changed quickly. I was increasing my volunteering responsibilities at my son’s school, at the same time that I worked on spring and summer travel plans for clients, tried to be engaged in family, and found my mileage inching ever upward. More mileage, more challenging workouts, more climbing, more strength work, and more self-care body work to keep everything in working order for the next workout. Though I am a relatively low mileage ultra-runner, I do a variety of workouts that eat up time, and as time slowly disappeared into increasingly challenging workouts, I found myself scrambling to fit in my other responsibilities. Writing, never a necessity in the day to day schedule, was the first to fade away.
At first I missed the writing process. I had ideas tumbling in my head, but never the opportunity to explore them. When I did have a bit of time to sit, I needed to be rolling out kinks in my muscles, or heading to bed for extra rest. Staying up late to write just wasn’t a wise or viable option. Sometimes I even resented the workouts that took me away from a chance to write, I questioned why I was doing this to myself again, and what I was sacrificing for this opportunity to race, was it worth it. Eventually, I found the training rhythm, head down, never look beyond the next week, the next workout. I found the pleasure in pushing myself again, in trying new things (hello to 9000+ elevation gain in a week of training), in the sense of getting stronger and more confident in myself. And as the training consumed me, as I committed to the process and the goal, the urge to write faded. Before long, I looked up to find I hadn’t thought about writing in weeks, and I hadn’t even realized it was missing.
I said once that writing for me is a way to process, to take the mashed up parts of life and make sense of the ebb and flow of ideas and emotions that pull at my attention each day. Without writing, I don’t feel whole, I don’t feel like I can put things in place and move on, a stronger and more balanced person. And that is true. But I have also said that running for me is a physical manifestation of the same process. When I run, my mind calms and falls into a pattern, where it can sort and organize, recombine and discard the many thoughts in my head. Running is writing, my body as the words, the trail as the paper. They are two parts of one whole. And while this processing, this meditative mental organizing, is always necessary for me to feel healthy and calm, the exact outlet is not specific. Trail running and writing both draw from the same pool, and the volume of the pool seems to be finite. When I am running less, the need to write is overwhelming. When the miles tick upward, that drive to write dwindles. Part of it is the limited capacity of time, that is true. But if I am honest with myself, running pulls from the pool of creativity that drives me to write.
I am not saying I shouldn’t run. I do love it so much. I also know that running lower mileage does not have the same effect on my writing as does high volume training. But I am learning that if I want to train for these long ultras, at this time in my life with the demands of a young family, writing will have to fade for a while. So while I may have been silent these last few months, I will be back. Training is drawing to a close, summer is calling. And with the summer will come lower miles, and a renewed energy, and rediscovered need to write.