As I think about the year ahead, I will focus on the good things that are coming my way, and I'm letting go and dropping the burden I've been carrying from the difficult events of the last year. I am thankful for the gifts in my life, and for the opportunities I had to grow and learn. Life is an ultra, and every finish line is the start of the next adventure.
I planned the Blue Moon Across the Decades run as my solution to missing Across the Years. I only wanted to do 12 hours over the two days, no big mileage goals, I'd be happy with 50. I only wanted to run 6 hours and then I could walk the rest of the time. I needed it for my head more than anything. This would be my longest run of 2009 if I went over 30.
This year has been pretty rough. In the past couple of months I've begun to see things more clearly, I've learned a lot and I'm doing a lot of personal growth, figuring out what I want and how to help it happen. I'm on a journey to steer my life back in a direction that feels right, that takes me back on the path that I know will lead me to happier places. Running, as always, is a big part of that and I haven't devoted nearly enough energy to it all year. I've allowed the energy-sucking forces to take away from my enjoyment and participation in my favorite activity. I can't let that happen anymore!
Since I haven't trained much all year, I didn't need to exhaust myself by running all night, trying to put in 100 miles or 24 hours or some big goal. I figured a 12 hour run would be enough to get some miles in and get my head cleaned out of some junk, and get focused on the good stuff ahead.
I took almost all of last week off, I was sick with a cold. I did one snowshoe run of 30 minutes that week. My legs felt sore each time I ran once I started up again. Weird. On December 30th I ran 11 miles, 5 in the morning by myself and then met Catharine and several others for a 6 mile moonlight run on the Poudre Trail. Afterwards we sat at Starbucks and talked, and I bought some snacks for my run the next day.
December 31 started like any other day in our household. The Buffaloes got their treats, went outside with mom to look at the sky, and ate their breakfast. The moon was full and setting in the west. It was 13 degrees outside our kitchen window. The humans had coffee and got ready for their day. Dennis got ready for work and I prepared to go on my run. Iris brought me her duck.
It was 10 degrees when I started, just after the moon set and the sun was rising in the southeast. I put on two pairs of tights and four layers on top, a set of gloves under my mittens, a neck gaiter, earband, and hat. I had my lightweight pack, just one bottle, a few gel packs, and my MP3 player.
I told the girls I'd be back to take them later but I needed to start my run alone. I wanted to get a good chunk of miles in before I had to make any stops.
I went west on the Spring Creek Trail out to the stadium before I turned around. I saw Larry from the running store but no one else I knew. There were few runners out so early. I got back to the house at 10:30 and got the girls' leashes. They danced around all excited. I wanted to take them for a decent run but they were pulling me on the ice and I didn't want to risk injury with my already tired legs.
Catharine and I made plans that I'd check my email when I got back to the house and if she could, she'd run with me to finish her mileage for the year. She had 7 miles to go on her annual goal.
I took the girls home after just 2 slippery treacherous miles on the ice. I promised them we'd do more after New Years. Our neighborhood never gets plowed. The streets are too small. I thought I was paying taxes too, but I guess that's not enough to get your street plowed after 2 blizzards. It's like 4 wheeling over a mogul run in the intersection at the end of our street. It's been cold and nothing has melted yet.
Regardless, I went home, refilled my bottle and drank a bunch of gatorade and water. I changed into dry clothes and left the house at 11:30 to meet Cat at the clinic. She met me coming up the Power Trail. We did our seven miles to get her goal for the year. It was a clear, perfect day, not too cold but we didn't get too warm, either.
Catharine reached her year goal of 3500+ miles, 3503 to be exact. That's 70 miles a week all year. I've never done mileage like that, I told her. Awesome job, Cat! We took a quick break for a photo op and then she went back to work and I ran home. Becoming friends and running partners with Catharine over the past year is one of those gifts I am so thankful for, something I didn't expect or anticipate, but was meant to be. Who would have thought that here in Fort Collins I'd meet someone my own age who likes to run as much as I do, is open to doing the ultra distances and gets the same crazy ideas for training runs that I concoct in my head, that most people consider insane running plans.
It's one thing to have someone to share those miles with, but to find someone who can make just the right amount and topic of conversation, makes our runs that much more meaningful. We have a mutual friend, Steve, who knows we are two peas in a pod and when he found out we'd met each other and were running together, he said, "That's trouble!"
When I got home from the section with Cat I was starving. I had 27 miles in. I had left a can of soup on the counter to remind myself to eat, but I didn't need a reminder. I devoured the soup and made a sandwich. I drank more gatorade and took some magnesium. I took a long break, changed clothes again, and headed out for the rest of the daylight. I only needed a little over an hour to get my 6 hour running goal, and I wanted to do 8 hours on my feet for the first day, which would leave me only 4 hours for January 1st.
I decided I would run until the moon rose. I went out the bike path again. I walked a solid hour to let the food digest and I saw several foxes, and four deer. I thought about what it would be like to be circling the track at Across the Years, and thought of many of the runners, wondering how they were spending their holiday and what their running plans were. It was starting to get to late afternoon, about my favorite time of day at ATY. I always love sunset and going into the night. I'd stop and eat whatever food they had for us at the aid station, and get more warm clothes on, recharge my batteries and get out again, ready to listen to music and move forward under the night sky.
But this time I was on the bike path in Fort Collins, the sun was setting, and it was getting dark. I forgot to bring my light. I made it home at 5pm just before dark and left Dennis a note on the counter. I grabbed my light, put an extra layer on, and took off for my final 40 minutes.
When I got home it was exactly 8 hours of moving forward since I started, I had 6 hours of running in and 2 hours of walking, and I had 40.4 miles the day. The moon was full above the street and it was bright on the snow.
The girls greeted me with barking, smiling and howling. Dennis came home with some champagne.
I had a typical night of sleep that night. I woke up in the middle of the night, couldn't sleep for a while, then slept until 5:30 or so. I got up and made coffee, started the day again as usual. It was slightly warmer, 15 degrees outside the window. I wanted to drive over to the Roost and use my car as my aid station. The Roost was opening at 9 am for a sale and Cat and the others would be there to shop and then to run at 10 am.
I left the house and made one stop at Starbucks around the corner. I got a hot chocolate with extra whipped cream and some so-called "low fat" banana chocolate chip coffee cake for the road. Eric, the awesome barista there, asked me how things were going in the world of crazy running. I told him what I was doing and I asked him to make that hot chocolate good for 20 miles. He said he calibrated it for 18, so he dumped a little more chocolate in there for the extra miles.
I parked at the Roost. No one was there yet but I could see Steve and the others inside setting up for the sale. I took off and did my first leg of about an hour and 20 minutes, stopping in the store after 9 am to do a little shopping. I got another pair of shoes and a running bra. At 10:00 I took off with Cat and the other runners, there was a group of about 20 of us. We ran about a 4 1/2 mile loop. The morning was getting warmer and the sky was clear. The clouds lifted from the front range and we were treated to these incredible views of Longs Peak, the Mummy Range, and Horsetooth Rock.
After the group run I decided to finish my last hour and change from the Roost. I said Happy New Year to everyone and took off for my final 7 miles. I did quite a bit more walking the second day, trying to get my fast walk rhythm again, even though I felt good when I was running. I had no idea what distances I was covering the second day since I don't run on those roads on a regular basis. I managed to get 17.4 in the four hours. I finished back at the Roost at 12 hours on the nose, with 57.8 miles for the two days. I went inside the store and had some water, hung out for a while talking with everyone before I left to go home.
When I got home, I took a shower, ate something, got comfortable and wrote down some goals for the year. Then I crashed on the bed with Iris for about 45 minutes. Dennis told me he could hear me snoring from all the way downstairs. Afterwards we went out for sushi. When we got home, I sat upstairs quietly for a while, reflecting on the run and the coming year, ready to take in all the good things ahead of me.
Then I went to bed before 8:00 and slept a solid 9 hours, without waking up! If 70 miles in 3 days is what it takes to sleep, I'm all for it! I hope I can spend this holiday next year back at Across the Years, but whatever happens is okay with me. I plan to be running, somewhere.