So, it’s been a few months since I’ve really been running regularly. To be completely honest, it all started going downhill last fall when I DNF’d Pine to Palm 100. It was a tough course, to be sure, but I was well trained and ready for the 20,000 feet of climbing ahead of me. Instead, it was the heat that got to me. It got up to 100 degrees on the day of the race, and this Alaska boy just isn’t used to that kind of heat. The most insulting part was that both the weekend before and after the race, it was in the 70’s, which would have been entirely manageable.
The main problem it caused for me is that I just couldn’t keep my heart rate under control. Running on a flat section of trail, or even downhill, my heart rate was going crazy, which forced me to take regular walking breaks to get my breathing under control. I was trying every trick in the book to cool myself off at the aid stations. I poured ice water over my head, neck and back, tied a bandanna full of ice around my neck, but none of that was making a big enough of a difference for me.
I do feel good about the fact that I never quit, I kept pushing even when I felt like crap, but I was moving so slowly that I missed the cutoff at mile 42. This was my first DNF, and I took it pretty hard. I had trained all summer for this race, flown to Seattle and then drove all the way down to southern Oregon with Sharla, my awesome crew for the weekend. I had a lot invested in this race – physically, financially, and emotionally.
After returning home defeated, I told myself I would take it easy for a month or two, and not sign up for any races anytime soon. As we moved into winter, and still not having any races on my schedule, I found it easier and easier to make excuses not to go for a run. At this point, I was running once, maybe twice a week, for just a few miles at a time.
Then December hit, and my mother got sick and spent several weeks in the ICU before passing away on Christmas Eve. Needless to say, December was a very difficult month for me and my family, and I ran very little.
Around the first week of January, my wife kept telling me that I needed to “get my mojo back” and get back into running more regularly. So as a late Christmas present, she signed me for a 13 week running group put on by the local running store. The group meets twice a week – Thursday nights at The Dome for a track/speed workout, and a Saturday morning long run starting and ending at their store.
I’ll be honest, I was a little skeptical of the whole thing at first. I’ve never followed any sort of structured training program or done regular group runs like this. But I decided to go into it with an open mind and a smile on my face, and I’ve been very happy with the results. The track workouts have actually been a lot of fun. I’ve spent so much time focusing on longer races the past couple of years, that I have mostly neglected speed work, so it’s been fun doing some faster runs lately. So far the longest long run we’ve done has only been 75 minutes, but I’ve still really enjoyed the group atmosphere and camaraderie.
The past several weeks, I’ve been running 4-5 times per week. Last week was my birthday, and I even got out for a 34km “birthday run”, which was the farthest I’ve run in several months now. It’s all been feeling great, and at this point, I think I can safely say that I’ve got my mojo back!