Well, it's sort of nearly July 1st, and the go-time is almost here. I made it through. In about a week, I am off to Colorado, attempting to live my dream of the year. I will text Larry from the points I have cell reception at, and I will let him choose the way to share (or not) my whereabouts. He's got my plan, and so do couple of Coloradoan friends, just in case. I do not anticipate danger to myself, just hard work, beautiful vistas, and a lot of solitude.
The dream was subjected to a lot of fears though, and not even logical fears of not being able to complete the trail in the time I allocated for myself (which is constantly and legitimately on my mind as there is this strong feeling that this time I am biting more than I can chew). Colorado had their second driest winter/spring season in many years, and the fires started early, by June raging and closing parts of forest/mountains/trail combination. On June 10 the last 90 miles (4 sections of Colorado Trail, all of San Juan Wilderness, including the exit point of Durango) was shut down for weeks (and subject to longer and wider-spread closures). A week later one of those 4 got re-opened. All that still meant possible detours, shortening of a hike by a good 75 miles, hitching rides, doing bunch of things I refused to think about. No matter what, it was out of my control. I developed a couple of contingency plans and breathed. (As a side note, Larry's plans to backpack some of San Juan trails with his son Harrison hung under re-consideration same way mine did). All I/we could do is to pray for monsoons to come earlier and heavier, do the rain dance, and get to the start. Best handling is learning to deal with things as they come my way. Common, worst case, if it stays as is, I will end up in Silverton, reuniting with beloved Hardrock crowd! While not the goal I set, not a bad way to end. "Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” ~Wayne Dyer
Funny how “solitude” and “loneliness” mean essentially the same thing, yet have very different connotations. Sort of like "pleasure" and "happiness". In order to reclaim my contentment, there is a need to reclaim capacity for solitude. Solitude isn't just "being alone"; it is a sense of "self". To go on a journey in solitude, one might emerge a changed person, or not… the outcome is not through conscientious, goal oriented direction. The magic is that the only goal needs to be is to walk from "here to there", with an open mind to absorb as much as possible, and the rest takes care of itself, subconsciously. A shift in values and outlook on life doesn’t take place as a deliberate decision, but as result of experience… may as well be on a trail. I know that activities which add meaning, purpose and significance to our lives are our relationships, our accomplishments, and our experiences. This is where the true value of life resides.
“It is only in solitude that I ever find my own core.” ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh
The month of final push was all about "go through the week and repeat": train, food prep, train, food prep, work, knit, food prep, get some sleep.
The working part is self-explanatory: I am swamped (bless my job and my clients), and luckily so - with an upcoming trip, I will miss 3 weeks of getting paid. Head down, and get 'er done. Ahead - 3 weeks of NOT massaging anyone!!!
What's a girl to do when she lives in flat-land of Austin at zero altitude? The training was about growing repeats (as short as they were) and miles and strength, and getting it all while balancing a fine line of overtraining. As soon as June began, I was reminded of how it felt to be at the end of a training cycle for a goal 100 mile race. I knew what I am doing on an almost primate level based on years behind, I am doing it without putting much serious dwelling. The weather is full-on "Texas summer". Having had a long Spring (God bless), May ended up being hottest month on history, and June started with 100F. Usually, these numbers don't appear until July, but the "seasons" (or whatever you call it here) got back at us all for the nice March-April with so many cold fronts. Or, may be, it is just to prove the point - 1 year to leave this "hot humid hell" countdown is ticking, and our last summer is "treating" us with full flavor. Every workout outside ended with an hour of "hundred miles stare" - it was so oppressive, that my body was red-lining with training. Somehow, in a weird magical way, my paces (a.k.a. the times for each set route on each day of the week) stayed the same, despite growing heaviness in legs and temperature/humidity numbers. It was within seconds from week to week, and I was bewildered - and grateful. My body locked into the effort and held on. Every morning I got out the door - I praised myself for having the "3 D": discipline, determination, dedication. Will power is not a given thing, and I hate when some folks think it's easy for me "Oh, you are so ...whatever word". I struggle with it. Daily. I make a choice. Or, rather, I don't allow myself to have choices. One choice. Get your ass out. I, literally, shut my mind down and go.
And so it went. I raveled in my backpack workouts as I could loose myself in a heavy sweaty breathing, picturing hunkering uphill in the mountains. I put my head down in my early morning road runs, sticking with routes without deviation, so I don't get a chance to shorten. And the gym workouts by now were legs, all legs and back.
The "tired" grew along with growing repeats and weights and temperatures. I battled, I carefully consumed protein powder after each hard workout daily, I drank more water, I even added electrolyte mix - something I haven't done in 5 years. I practiced yoga and mindfulness. It was all about perseverance - and dreaming big. I, quite literally, ran my shoes into the ground - and was lucky to get a few pairs of Hokas from Meredith to finish up this training (she also supplied me with a fresh pair of Drymax socks).
Final shake-down with a fully loaded pack and carrying poles (I train without, to add difficulty) was the last week of June, in full moon for giggles. Ouch, ha! The biggest load, is, of course, food - as I intend to not resupply off the trail, and it's a long time before I get a store on the way. The reality hit, as it does, always, once packed - it's a lot of weight to carry on my shoulders, and in this case, literally. Why do I do this to myself? The only good thing, if there is one - looking forward to lightening the load every day. :) Walk myself into shape, eat myself into lighter pack. Simple life, yet again...
I got re-inspired into knitting creatively, thankfully, though it lasted only couple of weeks. As the training peaked high, knitting stalled. I was hardly picking through my co-worker's order for 12 alpaca hats and a vest. And that, too, was part of normal life's cycle.
A very "nose to the ground" kind of month. I took stock of my 10-month journey that started back on September 1st with adjusting my body to a better physical state, and I am pleased with the progress. Almost 12% body fat are gone. No gimmicks, no personal trainer or a coach, just one advice of a friend-nutritionist: "You are old(er), your metabolism is slow, your exercise is your base level
This is it, not much more to add. I survived the Final Push, the Steam of 50 miles weeks (biggest miles in a long time). I made through 25 weeks of continuous training (that's 5+ months, people!) - legitimate training, for the first time that long and consistent since my body was hit with "running death" back in 2013. By the Grace of God, it all fell together just when I needed it most. And since the training went "for real", I get to use a real taper! Doing almost nothing for a week and fattening up!
Up ahead now - 18 days, 485 miles (God willing), High Country of Colorado Mountains. I am scared. Yet I feel an incredibly strong pull to go. So I must go.
"And into the forest I go, to loose my mind and find my soul"...
I guess I'll take my time
Oh yeah, to reach there
Look up at the mountain
I have to climb
Oh yeah, to reach there.
I creep through the valleys
And I grope through the woods
'Cause I know when I find it my honey
It's gonna make me feel good, yes
I love everything
So don't it make you feel sad
'Cause I'll drink to you, my baby
I'll think to that, I'll think to that.
Miles from nowhere
Not a soul in sight
Oh yeah, but it's alright
I have my freedom
I can make my own rules
Oh yes, the ones that I choose
Lord my body has been a good friend
But I won't need it when I reach the end