Sunday, May 3, 2009

Too Far, Too Fast

I am one of those people that tends to do too much, get overwhelmed, have a breakdown, and then re-do the cycle, over, and over. I've gotten a little bit better. I used to be unable to say the words no. I'd see an opportunity and always say yes. Ok I still often say yes, but I do know when I am getting close to the breaking point and need to back off.

People keep asking if I'll be doing Western States. My answer: no. First because I am not prepared to take on a 100 mile race, I just started running ultras a little over two months ago. Miwok taught me a great deal. I was not physically or emotionally prepared for that race. Yes I did it and I am proud of myself, but I felt a little disconnected from the joy I get from running. With all that said, the actual race was overall good even with the nausea and ups and downs. It was the aftermath that has me reconsidering longer races without preparation. I was up on and off the whole night after sick. I hobbled out of bed the next morning and I could barely get on my bike to ride to work (I know bad idea to work the next day, but like I said, I am horrible at saying no). In fact, I literally had to pick my leg up to place it on the peddle. I only taught for a couple hours, but the entire time I felt terrible. I didn't have an appetite until about 3 in the afternoon. I spent most the day laying in bed, other than a brief cleaning frenzy moment. I don't like feeling blah and I don't know how I expected to feel after 62 miles, but I guess I was hoping for more than just blah. As for today, I am doing much better. I walked to work and my body feels almost 100%, but emotionally, I am not as great. Feeling a little depressed and I know it is related to everything my body has been through in the last 48 hours. I had not expected the emotional piece, which makes it that much harder.

My second reason for not jumping into States is my heart is not in that particular race. My heart is in running. I just love to run whether it is a race or not, I don't care. Being out in the woods, in the mud, hearing my breath makes me incredibly happy. In fact that is why I hate even missing a day of it. I never want to fall out of love with running and I do fear jumping into a race like WS could do it. Maybe, I'll be sharing too much, but I think it deserves sharing. In my late teens/early 20's, I struggled with anorexia. I denied my body nutrients and denied my heart joy. It was my mom who told me that my body is the one thing I will have my entire life, so I've got to love it like crazy. Those words, my love of running, and my art changed my perspectives and in the years following my recovery, my body and heart became something that I listened to, cared for, and appreciated.

Lastly, I am one of those people that always wants to do well at something. I don't want to go out there and just wing it. I want to do really well. This is not a race where I can just wing it and do well, it takes planning and preparation. I just started ultras. In some ways I've barely had time to absorb the last couple months. It has been kind of a whirlwind. I never expected to be doing so well. I just love to run. When I run Western States, I want to be able to soak up the experience, know my heart is in it, be prepared, and do the best I possibly can. So yup, no WS for me this year, maybe next year, maybe not. As long as I am running, I am happy.

(I took this photo about two years ago. I was having a crummy day and I went up to Lake Chabot. Ran for a couple hours and took my shitty camera with me. About 3/4 of the way into the run, I decided to just plain jump in the mud puddles. One of the best runs of my life.)


Luis Velasquez said...

Love your post today.. some of us do run for the hell of it... Most of us are not as gifted as you are so there are not big expectations. Glad you are keeping yourself grounded, you are a RockStar Caitlin.. :)

Buzz said...

I think this post should be required reading for would-be ultra runners ... maybe for long-time ultrarunners too!

The old Puritan ethic pervades ultrarunning:
Suffering = nobility.
Pain = growth.
Misery = character.

I don't think so! And I'm glad you don't either.

Some people get sucked into doing things, not because the experience itself brings joy, openness, or growth, but because it's an "accomplishment" - an external motivation rather than internal. Not sustainable.

Thanks for sharing.

Devon said...

I had to smile when I read your post since I totally can relate to everything that you said and totally understand how you are feeling right now. Also, I think you are incredibly wise to wait before jumping into the 100.

As for the emotional drop off after a race, I feel that hard too. It is a very steep emotional drop off from the endorphins and euphoria we experience during the race. Afterwards, there is a crash. I think the best thing for me was realizing it would happen and mentally know it was coming. I try to allow myself a good week in which I give myself alot of space to just feel whatever I feel.

I think it is also great to recognize that you want to maintain the love and purity of why you do what you do. I am there with you. While WS gets alot of hype, I too felt like my heart wasn't in it. I think you need to follow your heart and never (not even down the line) feel pressured to do a race you don't love. That just misses the point.

Finally, I think it is great that you are keeping yourself grounded as your ultrarunning "career" takes off and already have realized how easy it is to get swept up in things that aren't healthy or counter to the reasons we run. You have it totally right from the get go!

Continue to recover well! Take care of yourself this week and indulge whatever your body, soul, spirit needs. Congrats again! You are awesome!

Dave - Atlanta Trails said...

too many people forget about the joy of running once they get caught up in all this ultra stuff. I'm glad you're not.

I always say that I want to still run 50k's when I'm 70. Why rush everything now?

I hope your recovery period continues to improve.

-Your friend one town to the north

olga said...

That is absolutely insightful. Thank you.

David Ray said...

Yep, lots of wisdom from such a youngster. :) Way to keep your head on straight. I like that picture.

Scott Dunlap said...

Given the conditions, you did extremely well. I get the impression Western States will be there for you whenever you are ready.

I could barely walk the next day too. I think all that mud/balancing just wrecks you.

Victoria said...

I highly recommend borrowing a dog and running for a while. (You can borrow mine if you want-- she'd be happy to accompany you on any trail!) Seriously though, she reminds me that the world is a really amazing place, and the minute I'm in right now is pretty much the best thing ever.

Congratulations on a great race, but even more congratulations and admiration for focusing on what really matters to YOU.

George R. said...

Wise beyond your years. That was one of the best posts I've read from ultra runners. Great decision on keeping it pure.

kate said...

Yep, good decision, Caitlin, you have years and years ahead to run......

Sarah (PCTR) said...

Good for you, Caitlin, for doing what's good for you.


Brian Wyatt said...

Great post. Thanks for directing me to it. I think the sport is filled with us overzealous types who always say yes, and it can often get us in trouble or put undue pressure on ourselves. In the end, it all comes down to the heart being in it. Keep following your passion and take plenty of time to run for the sheer joy. Recover well.

Jordan said...

At last, I finally found the email with the link to your blog, so now I have back-reading to do! Caitlin it was amazing being part of your journey at Miwok and talking it through in the week following. Thanks for this morning, talking with you always helps me get into my heart space and feel more grounded! You are a wonderful friend and I appreciate you so much! I love this entry and all the growth I hear in it. Stay strong and follow your B's--Breath, Brains, Body, and Bliss!

FastED said...

Amen! I said "NO" to WS because my heart is just not in that race as well. People think I'm crazy but Hard Rock has my heart right now.

Good read. See you on the trail somewhere.
Scott Jaime

Rick Gaston said...

Whatever keeps you "you". Seems like you are strong enough to stand up/fight for that. See you soon on the trails.

Marco Denson said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You've been kicking ass on the trails and you did an awesome run at Miwok. Personally when I'm in the middle of a long race I always tell myself that I will never run 50 miles or more again. "I'll stick to the 50ks" I say. But then, two weeks later, after the pain is gone, I sign up for another one. I'm not as wise as you are. Then again, I'm not as fast either. Take your time, WS100 will be there when you are ready for it. We'll be there to cheer you on.
Marco Denson