Today’s hero came in the convenient form of laboratory-concocted organic sugary goo. Clif Shots. These gels have saved many-a-bonk in the past and today was no different.
With having work off for two consecutive days, I found myself with an abundance of time. I made a split decision to head up to the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin, the site of my 50-mile race attempt (DNF) this past May, to snatch some of my ego back.
I left Greenbush and drove three hours, traversing Chicago’s suburbs, to the Nordic trailhead parking lot in LaGrange, WI, where I slept in the back of my car. I didn’t fall asleep until 2am and the sun woke me up at 5:30am, which made for a groggy trot of the first few miles.
To my surprise, I remembered the course in its entirety and had no issue with navigation. I tried to relax into a groove but to no avail. 20 minutes…30…40…50…even an hour into the run, I was mentally flabbergasted at my lack of motivation. I just wanted to curl up and take a nap.
I found a bench (there are many along the frequent-footed Ice Age Trail) on top of a moraine (left over from a glacier during Wisconsin’s last Ice Age, over 20,000 years ago) overlooking Lake LaGrange and laid down, hoping to settle my monkey mind. I closed my eyes, fell asleep for 30 minutes, and upon departure, consumed water and a gel.
Upon leaving my car, the goal was to make it to Rice Lake and back (23 miles), no matter what happened. I opted to hike the first five minutes post-nap. Hiking turned into trotting. Trotting to jogging. Then, I realized I could open it up just a bit. I looked down at my Suunto and realized I was running 6:30s. Up, down, didn’t matter. I was locked in. And before I knew it, I was on my way back, passing by familiar territory, conquering most of the tough climbs and descents in those sections.
I tagged the Nordic trailhead in 3h11m41s from whence I started.
These types of efforts (where bonking and foggy-mindedness are aplenty) wouldn’t be found under the category of “smart, proper” training. But, to me, running is much more than trying to be as fast as possible. It’s about the purity and unplugged freedom, sensations of pleasure and pain, being obsessed with each individual foot placement, connecting with the natural terrain. And the experience is ALWAYS enhanced when I’m suffering alone, grinding my emotions into exhaustion.
Not all runs are like today’s.
Today was a tale of two halves. Today was my Victory.