The journey through life has many valleys that we can't just skip over, and also many mountains to climb that we can't just jump over. It is also true that we need the space and the freedom to make our own mistakes. Trial and error seem to be the only way we can learn and grow. Life is first and foremost a process. And this process is a zig-zag process at that. (John Powell)
Sometimes I wish that things would be much simpler, that there wouldn't be so many zigs in the road when I could really use a zag. Sometimes I look at the mountain in my path and I know that it's going to challenge me pretty dearly, and I think that I would much rather have a straight, flat path ahead of me so that I wouldn't have to do any more heavy work. Life can become overwhelming at times, and the more trials that we have to face, the more difficult it can be to see the good and the positive and the beautiful. After all, we can't see a whole lot when our noses are to the grindstone, can we?
I do know, though, that these are the parts of my life that help me to develop my character and to grow as a human being. Working my way through the valleys and over the mountains helps me to develop a sense of perspective that can be helpful to other people who also are going through trials. If it weren't for the trials in our lives, we would most probably stagnate and never come close to reaching our full potential. After all, life tends to know what we need much more than we do ourselves.
If I had the choice, I wouldn't give up the mountains and hills and valleys. Sometimes I might wish that they would come a few days or weeks or even months later, but when all is said and done I know that I need them. And I have no idea who will need me in the future, and what kinds of obstacles or trials those people will have needed me to go through in order to get to a point at which I can be truly helpful to them.
So, I burnt out. So, what. Not like it's the first time. And surely not the last. A year ago tomorrow Stephen and I had moved to Austin, and 2 weeks later my training started in it's earnest. I ran. I did gym workouts. I ran more. In cicrles. In the heat. With no mountains to stop and enjoy. It was all work and not much play. OK, I am over-estimating it. Of course, I played too, but with the terrain and the weather being what it is here, and with the fact that my life obligations hadn't allowed me to run with any group or a single person, for the most part it was training - and it paid off. I had a great season of racing, ever beginning with Cactus Rose 100 last October. I rolled from race to race, getting stronger, and even faster, with speedwork, hillwork, tempo runs and so on. I utilized all that I knew, I had help of someone else to learn more for a couple of months - and I had fun. But I am not invincible. By the time San Diego was over, while my body was feeling fine and I jumped right back into training, my mind and my heart lagged behind. I emailed Ronda saying "I am flat". I dreaded going to Tahoe Rim 100, and it felt so wrong, because this beautiful run does not deserve to be run "flat". I tried to watch the video of the race Meredith gave me, I was excited to be present at WS100 as a spectator, I followed Hardrock 100 and Badwater 135 webcasts...and nothing. All I wanted was just to get a backpack on my back, tag Larry with me - and go hiking. No pressure, no expectations...
There is a reason Scott Jurek doesn't run for 4 weeks every season, and tells his clients to do so as well. Not to mention the "season" in Texas has a span from October to April, which I participated in - and then continued on into a "regular" season I am used to. Because I missed mountains. Because I wanted to visit "West of Rocky" where the heart still is. Because I am stubborn, and I am stupid, but aren't we all? I am afarid I will loose this wonderful fitness I got myself into (greedy - ooh, I haven't been in this shape since a couple of years), that I just have to use all of it now, or else, and that there are people out there, waiting for me to perform...and this is where it goes all wrong. There are some points of our lives where we loose our identity to what we do, as opposed to who we are.
I run. I had been running, well, not so long, come to think about it - since 2001, and ultras since 2003. It's just the number of races is kind of overwhelming...As I made my way on Tahoe Rim trail, besides the famous Tahoe lake and Marlette lake views, there was a Washoe lake on the right of the ridge, and I remembered - I ran a marathon around it. When was that? 7 years ago - man, time flies. That was the year I visited the start line of WS100, and the start line of BW135 - and promised to myself to make those happen. And I've been at it ever since.
But every so often there comes a time when, because I don't recognize ahead of time the need to rest, not only body, but mind and soul, I get burnt out. It is a pretty scary state at first. It hits you out of nowhere, and you are at a loss - what do I do now? My body functions just fine - in fact, because I only made 61 miles, I hadn't a need for recovery at all. I do have a hamstring injury that has being getting more and more aggravated since March and finally tells me for certain it needs to be taken care of (old hamstring tear - has it happen again?). All that said - so far I haven't run a step. And, hear me out - I don't want to either. Ain't I supposed to inspire others?
The matter of the truth is, my break is an honest inspiration as well. To be true to yourself. To do things that are important to you. To be the best you can be - but not single-pointed. There is so much more to life, and while we juggle it all rather well, there are times we need to simply flip the switch, step away and tend to other things. As I said in my DNF report, and I seriosuly meant it - I'll come back on my own terms. So far, I always had...
So, I flipped the switch. I pulled out of my "left-over" 100's. I hit the gym and am enjoying the heavy lifting and hanging out with a different crowd. I cross-train on various cardio machines. I bought a monthly pass to my favorite Bikram yoga and finally remembered why I loved it so much to the point, I used to teach classes back in NYC for over 2 years. I am done with my massage internship and this Saturday am taking the National Board test for LMT (come over next month and let me wortk on your kinks!). I grew nails - and who knows, may be my toe-nails have a chance to grow too:) I read a lot. I am dealing with Stephen's teenager-induced challenging of rules, and his "entry" into high school and football practices. I am getting adjusted to my new diet as I finally was diagnosed to be gluten-intolerant, and learning a bunch on that. And - we took a family to a water park for Larry's birthday (where we stood in line for an hour to get onto a 1 min ride, and where we were petrified to see "up close and personal" the obesity rate in America!) and spent a bunch of time with his mom too. Life goes on. So it should.
Life is pretty simple. You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. (Tom Peters)