Just. Keep. Moving.

Wow. How do I begin to describe today’s run? I’ll stick with the theme of the week…        A test of my perseverance!

Gut-Check. I went into this run with specific instructions from my coach to take it easy on a 3.5 hour run/hike, “throw-in some walk breaks and keep it in the aerobic zone.” He wanted me to run this like I plan on running Vermont (power-walk uphills, take aid station breaks, etc). So, in classic form (for this training cycle) I didn’t really prepare the night before. My alarm went off at 5:15 and I dragged my ass out of bed, ate a banana, filled-up four water bottles, grabbed a bag of TJ’s PB filled pretzels, my Hammer Endurolytes, made a PB and Fluff sandwich, a banana, fig newtons and headed to Dunks for my large coffee on the way to the trailhead. I even decided to wear my Garmin for this run for some reason (coach likes data). I hit the trail and walked the first 0.25 mile uphill then started running.

On the first downhill I landed square on a pointy rock right behind the rock plate in my MT-101’s (the front part of the arch), ouch! I kept running and didn’t really feel the effects. I had it in my mind that I would do at least two laps of my normal trail circuit and try to fit-in an extra mile (17 miles in three hours is conservative, right?) at the end. Everything was going well until my first climb deep in the woods. I was power walking and just getting attacked by the goddamned deer flies, Ugh! I totally forgot to take my garlic supplement this morning, and I didn’t grab a dryer sheet either. Shit! The only way I’ve found to beat these things is to run and swat. So I did. I probably ran too hard and too fast for too long because by the time I got out of the woods and hit the street I was aggravated and my legs felt like lead balloons. Shuffling… Shuffling. Just. Keep. Moving. This too shall pass. Around mile 3 I was full-on running again, until I hit the next serious climb at 4.25. Somehow, walking this climb hurt as much as running it did last week. More actually. How’s that possible?

I hit the turnaround and decided to take a short break. When I did, I started doing some math (thanks Luau), not Luau-style math, but math nonetheless. If I was able to complete 17 miles this morning, that would mean that I put-in 40 miles in about 36 hours (18 on the treadmill, 5 race, and 17 trail). I can do this. Headed back and running again, I suddenly realized I was out of water.

Coming down the steepest descent of the trail I remembered the water bottles (gifts from God) I had found and stashed there last week. Hopefully they were still there… They were! I cracked one open and filled my bottle (crunching-up and stashing the empty in the back waistband of my shorts).

Loop 1 done (8.15 miles). Back at the car the thermostat read 94 F! I first grabbed what was left of my coffee (bad idea) then went for some fig newton’s (worse idea) felt like I was going to puke. So I sat on the tailgate while tending to my blisters, re-lubing my feet with Bodyglide, changing my socks and shirt (they were soaked as if I’d just run through a thunderstorm) while trying to hold back the vomit. I knew I needed some fuel so I ate one half of the PB & Fluff and decided that PB&J would’ve been a better idea (note to self). Then I grabbed a handful of the PB Pretzels (they go down much easier with mouthfuls of water).

This is where things got really tough for me. This is where the test started. I had come-in at 1:43 (right on track). By the time I headed back out for my second loop I was at 2:00… 17 minutes, really? Holy crap. Way too long. I guess the tailgate was way too comfortable. But, I was happy. I had a dry shirt, dry socks and was walking up the 0.25 mile hill into the trail. As soon as I started running downhill, I twisted my ankle on a loose rock and almost fell. I wished that I had just fallen because the energy expended keeping myself upright just about zapped me. And I tweaked my core and back something fierce (I’ve been dealing with a back “thing” since last week). Just. Keep. Moving.

About a mile into my second loop everything hit me. I started getting really emotional. I started thinking about “why?” Why am I doing this? Why is it so important to me? What could I be doing instead. All of my current problems and old demons started raising their heads. I was fighting against the voices with every step. I started thinking about last weeks poor numbers due to the back “thing.” I call it the “thing” because I am not/wasn’t sure what exactly it was. I have an ongoing (chronic) issue with L5-S1 displacing forward that I’m being treated by my sports chiro for (and responding well to treatment). And then on top of it I got hit with this ridiculous flank pain that took me out of the game. I thought at first it was a kidney stone. Then after seeing Dr. Jack about it, he said it was a sprained para-spinal muscle most likely caused from lifting my enormous 25 lb. 10 month-old daughter. I didn’t run for 6 days. Then at 2am at work the other night (after the 18 on the treadmill), the pain came back with a vengeance and I spent two hours in the bathroom pissing-out fiery sand. So, go figure. Whatever.

Anyway, all of the negatives of the past week came rushing back and it suddenly dawned on me, I was in mile 32. This is probably exactly how I’m going to feel and what I’m going to have to fight through at mile 32 of Vermont! Just. Keep. Moving. The walk breaks were coming more often now, but I knew if I just kept moving, just kept pushing myself, this rough patch would end. Then I hit the deep woods and the deer flies AGAIN! I took off running. What else could I do? I broke through and came out of the woods relieved. Relieved but walking. And walking. Even though I was back on the road I just couldn’t get my legs going, but I kept moving.

The mental battle began again. I just reminded myself that even in Vermont, it’s going to be a 12 hour run, I may have to walk for an hour at some point, but I’ll be alright if I just keep moving. Just as I was about to try to run again, Lex and the girls pulled-up alongside me with smiles and a bottle of ice water. I didn’t even realize, but I needed it. It was so cold and so good. My 3rd 20 oz. bottle was nearly empty, so Lex helped me open it and filled it with the rest of the ice water. I looked down at my watch and was already at 2:45:00 at 11 miles. Ugh.

After they drove away, I just wanted to get home. I realized there was no way I was going to get anywhere near 17 miles in in the time I had left. I tried to calculate how far I could go at this pace, but I couldn’t do the math. Math is NOT my strong suit. And my head was getting really fuzzy. So I hit the trailhead where I usually re-enter the woods on the way back and headed toward the car. After the first climb I found my legs again and was running. Two miles later I was back at the car. I made it in running. I felt a spiritual uplift and even thought of doing another small loop (add 1.5 miles) to get the full 3:30:00 in, but thought that Lex might actually kill me if the 99 F heat didn’t.

This whole week has been a lesson in perseverance for me. I haven’t had the best runs of my life, far from it. But as far as learning about myself, and what I can do if I persevere, it has been EPIC. Just. Keep. Moving.

Go out and GET IT!

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4 Responses to Just. Keep. Moving.

  1. sheila says:

    Now that is what I am talking about. Pushing through and not listening to the demons-satan as I call it-and getting it done! And look who showed up for moral AND water support, nice going Lex! Nicely done Doug!!

  2. Logan Hejl says:

    When I find myself bitching about walking late in a long run I have to remember what my purpose is in all this. My “why” is because I want to, because I am alone am nothing without running. My work and family and other stuff is not related to running. This is the sole endeavor I take for myself. So I push on. As for walking it out? I am not deluded enough to think I could win an ultra at any distance, thus the goal is always to finish. If walking in tandem with running gets me to the finish line then so be it. So I push on. I nearly stopped short yesterday, not because of how I was feeling but for the same time issue you alluded to in you blog. But I was able to get right back out and finish the goal distance. And guess what? Those final three miles sucked ass. Glad I did it though. Went further when I did not have to. I pushed on. You should rock VT100.

  3. sarah says:

    Nice job doug!!! i cant wait to see you rock VT50!!!!

  4. Good gawd there’s so much that goes into trail running, and I am completely unaware of it all. Glad I’m following your blog to learn from you! I would have never known that about Garlic supplements.
    I also get the train of “why am I doing this” thoughts. Always give yourself great reasons, and you’ll find that you’re running stronger during that moment.
    These training runs are good training for the mental part too.

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