Monday, June 21, 2010
Some days aren't your days. It is easy to start blaming things and making excuses... I didn't eat a very good dinner... I was an emotional wreck... I couldn't sleep... My hip hurt... I felt sick...I didn't know the course... I trained too hard... etc....etc. I always find this interesting because on the days that are yours these same things are sometimes present too. I have had some of my best races on cereal dinners, after emotional upheavals, with 3 hours of sleep, feeling achy/sick, not knowing a single step of a course, and training like a mad woman. Regardless of the day we're all aiming for our best. And sometimes we just have to surrender to what happens. Our bodies and minds are mysterious, sometimes carrying us and sometimes fighting us. As Buddha says, every day is different. Anyhow I will do my best to avoid a blog of excuses. I did my best on Saturday. I am inthralled by the amazing talent of all the runners that headed up Mount Washington. It is an epic course that tests personal strength and determination.
Taking a step back, I found out about this race in 2009. It caught my attention and I decided at the beginning of the year I would give it a go. The instant I got into the race fear settled in and I was scared shitless. I put off buying my plane ticket, doubted my training, and questioned what in the heck I was doing. But, eventually I just dove in. I knew if I didn't show up I'd always wonder 'what if.' There is no way I would ever have stepped foot in a race like Mt. Washington two years ago. My lack of running confidence and my anxiety ate me up. I've come a long way in a couple years. Sure my old habit has a way of reappearing, but I am fighting it, sometime with a glass of wine and jokes, but hey it's getting me to the starting line!
I flew into Portland, Maine on Thursday evening. I spent the night there and woke-up to find a yoga class in town. It was the perfect class. It was gentle, mellow, and relaxing. The instructor, Rebecca, spoke of surrendering. How perfect... right?! I let go in that moment. I was in the best mood driving to New Hampshire after the class. I sang along to country music as I drove in the sunshine. I arrived in Intervale where I stayed the night in a cute little motel. Then Saturday June 19th, I drove 20 minutes to the start. My hip has been an ongoing issue for the last few months, but I knew I could push through (of course being alone in a motel the night before makes you think too much about such things). Shit I was able to push through Miwok with a hurting hip and an upset stomach (and to date, that has been my hardest race). Anyway, I just surrendered and knew I'd make it to the top.
The canon went off and in 90 degree heat, we were off. It started fast and I tried to stick with a fast pack of women. I kept a few in eyesight and then we were into mile one, 7:38. My first thought, "oh shit!" Too fast and instantly I started thinking, maybe I won't make it to the top. Then there was that mental battle. Mile two I had to stop and walk, holding on to my hip as if that would cure it. People cruised past. Fuck this I thought. Then it was, "now Caitlin get a grip, you've been through worse, you're strong, come on now." Back to running. Then "yay some mellower grade. I can do this!" Hip pain... damn walking again. "This sucks." Anyway you get the point. It was one foot in front of the other with a constant internal and physical battle. At mile 5 things started to change. The hip chilled. I took in the views. I started to get my groove and then it was over far too fast. 7.6 miles up a hill even with an average grade of 11.5% is just too short. Too short for me at least. I am learning I don't really warm up until mile 5 or 6 and then I really start enjoying a race around 11 or 12. I like the long stuff. The short stuff is a good challenge, but it is never very rhythmic for me. I just like more time with my epic experiences. Personal preference that's all.
I finished tenth at Mt. Washington. Not what I hoped, but I am proud of it. I got to the starting line. I made it to the top. I was humbled and happy. I am growing as a runner and better yet, as a person.
More Info on the race
Monday, June 14, 2010
I am getting close to another move. Since coming to California seven years ago, I have moved almost every year. The feeling of packing boxes and creating a new home has become a common experience. Ironically from birth until 18, I lived in the same house in Traverse City, Michigan. My parents are still there, on the hill and tucked into the woods. It makes perfect sense that my new place is in the hills surrounded by trees. I can't wait to swing in a hammock outside listening to the birds and wind. I look forward to lacing up my shoes and running less than a mile to the trails. I've learned to adapt to various locations, loosing grounding and then regaining it, living amongst helicopters every night and bright street lights, having roommates and disagreements, struggling to pay rent, and knowing ultimately home is arbitrary. It isn't the house, but what we bring to it (and sometimes you discover all you have is yourself and a few boxes of books). The space is a sense of comfort and we can absorb the chaos of the world knowing that we can come home. As I get older I realize it is people and relationships that have inspired me to compose myself in this discordant world. Everyone from brief encounters to big conflicts has encouraged me to find home and inspiration even in moments of tears and pure frustration with life.
-Grandma for sharing tea and conversations (and for treating me to Golden Grahams as a kid - I know my mom wasn't a big fan, but I appreciated the treat).
-Mom for truly reminding me that my body is a gift and that it is the one thing I'll have my entire life.
-Dad for encouraging me to keep making art and following my dreams (and of course spicy chili too).
-Meghan for having me run up our driveway, teaching me to shave my legs, and showing me the beauty of childbirth (oh and doing Jane Fonda workout routines together in the living room).
-Bryan for chasing me around the house, playing nasty rap music with your kicker sound system, and for showing me how you can achieve big dreams with desire.
-Heather for that track meet our senior year and your pep talk about how I had fast twitch muscles too. Why the hell was I running a 400 meter... seriously?!
-Josh for our conversation on your trampoline... I did get into U of M and you convinced me to be less doubtful of myself (oh and thanks for referring to me as a "chick magnet")
-Jordan for saving me in the pouring rain, giving me a home for a week, and letting me win my first arm wrestling match.
-Will ah shit, so many thanks. I would never have thought I was even close to fast without you. You brought out the bobcat and several other traits!
-Sam for our conversations, helping me change my tire, telling me the best stories ever, and oh the cuddle parties and icing. And for reminding me that I have an extra gear... just for you I'll do my best to throw-up at the top of Mt. Washington Saturday. (And thanks for the bonus of letting me finish in front of you last weekend, probably the one and only time that will happen).
-Ann Post for telling me women don't peak in their running until their 30s and inspiring me to keep falling in love with running.
-Mr. Sprattmoran for encouraging me to write and for allowing us to make a paper mache buddha while learning about eastern religion.
-Dan for your knowledge of the human body.
-Ricardo for that ridiculously cute picture that had Emily and I laughing are asses off, for that meal that you promised to make me like 6 f'n years ago, and for accompanying me to the bubble tea place.
-Tim for reminding me that yoga/life is all about strength and flexibility and finding the balance between the two.
-Danielle for that super entertaining night at Kingman's and for all our great and entertaining conversations.
-Devon for teaching me how to haul ass downhill and sticking with me through all those ups and downs even on the Ohlone trail when you encouraged me that I was a little spark plug.
-Kate for being the best workshop partner ever! You are one of the warmest people I've met (honestly, you should never ever get a parking ticket... too frickin' sweet for that nonsense).
-Matt for teaching me how to blow up onions in the desert and inspiring my own photography.
And of course there are many more, but this would take me far too long and I do need to go for a run. But if we've crossed paths know that I am incredibly grateful and you are part of the reason that I will find my way back home.