Sometimes you need to get off the beaten path, and change the pace. By the time I made it to the end of my last training cycle I was exhausted. I had been sick for almost a month, working retail in a run speciality store in the middle of holiday madness, and taking care of my parents after my Dad’s back surgery. Before I even made it to the start line in Jacksonville I knew the next thing I needed was a break. So, my goal for the new year didn’t focus on goal race times, finally getting a BQ, or races at all. Instead I just wanted to have some fun.
For months I had talked about wanting to go out on trails. The Mayor’s Midnight Marathon has had a lasting affect on my thoughts on trails. After several grueling miles on a gravel tank trail runners are rewarded with a beautiful single track trail through mountain meadows before climbing up to the peak. It is one of my favorite race memories ever. I knew I wanted to get back to it. I am tired of taking my life in my hands every time I go for a run in Atlanta. Fast, and distracted drivers quickly take the fun out of nearly every run. The holidays only seemed to make everything worse. So, I strapped on a pair of trail shoes given to me by a friend, bought a park pass, and headed to the river to explore the single track trails.
There is something about trail running that is incredible freeing. There is no worry about pace, traffic, or anything other than what the footing is for your next step. You can jump over puddles, speed down hills, and hop over roots and rocks. It’s something I plan to do every week no matter what I decide to train for. I feel stronger and happier every time I hit the trails. Sometimes the best training plan is to scrap the training plan and rediscover why I love running. So far I have to say it’s working wonders. Time will tell what it brings.
That’s what my 2014 racing schedule currently looks like, and I have to say it feels kind of awesome! I took a week off of running to try to get over the germs I just can’t seem to shake. It was a week to attempt to relax, and catch up on sleep. I kept thinking of ideas as people kept asking what was next. And while I liked the list my heart was really in it. Really the list just kept stressing me out. It meant jumping back into training. It isn’t that I dislike training, but I’m just tired of training. All I ever do is jump from one training cycle to the next. All I had was a list of races and no desire to run. So, I made a quick call to my coach, and told him how I really felt.
So, out went the list. It was freeing. It made me happy. I started talking to a co-worker about some places i wanted to check out, and I started getting excited. I started running for me 7 1/2 years ago. It was supposed to be a way to get healthy, and de-stress not something to cause stress. Something needed to change. I get to take a month or so and just see what I feel like. I don’t know what I want to race, and the be completely honest it’s hard to think past July anyway. I want to do things like run on Saturday’s maybe even with friends if my work schedule lets me. I want to explore some trails and just have some fun without worrying about pace or how long I’m running. I want an off-season!
So, no races for the foreseeable future. It’s a pretty awesome plan so far 🙂
It’s interesting to look back at what we thought life as an adult would be like when we were a child. Care-free, able to do whatever we wanted, go where ever we wanted, or the big one go to bed whenever we wanted. Life always seems so much easier through the eyes of a child. If memory serves me right I was desperate to be a ballerina, teacher, astronaut, and artist all wrapped into one. Life as an adult seemed so far away, but the truth is we spend so much more time as an adult than we do as a child. I would never imagine as a child that I would look forward to being in bed by 10pm or earlier some nights. There was never any worry of money, or being responsible. Those are lessons learned through life, and one very helpful economics class in high school.
Life as an adult throws us curve balls. I don’t know that I would ever have imagined that I would be where I am today. I would have never imagined that I would taking care of my parents already at 27. Flash forward 7 1/2 years and it seems we have circled back to the beginning. One had back surgery just before Christmas, which lead to Christmas day in the ER. The other now has a bothersome hip, which means my days off from work have turned into cleaning, picking things up, and cooking. It’s a job I never thought I would have until I was much older. Life it seems has quite the sense of humor. I don’t mind doing it though. They took care of me as a child, and made sure I could all of the opportunities that they could afford. Some days giving back is easy. Other days I struggle. It’s one of the many reasons I run, or find contentment through things like photography, breakfast gabbing over coffee with a good friend, or discovering I’m stronger than I think I am thanks to pilates.
Now I find myself looking to see where I’m headed in the future. While life may have been a bit of a struggle at the end of 2013 I’m hopeful of what 2014 may bring. The year starts with a blank slate. We can craft it however we want, create goals to find new heights, or sometimes even get back to the simple things in life like curling up with a good book. Life in 2013 took lots of twists. Some of the goals were left waiting to be met another time, and others were far exceeded. Here’s to 2014 and the new start it brings!