Tag Archives: enthusiasm

No BHARG This Year? What’s Wrong with Me?

I have a confession to make. For the first time in four years, I have no BHARG.

It’s February, and I ought to be at the peak of my winter training, working my buttinsky off at Body Specs and prepping for my spring ultras, culminating in a Big Hairy-Ass Running Goal in late May or early June. It’s worked like a charm for the Kettle Moraine 100 (2016), Lighthouse 100 (2017), and Veterans Memorial 150 (2018), with lesser sufferfests along the way, including 50-milers in the rain, 12 hours of trail looping, and the Boston Marathon. And it’s been an absolute blast.

Crossing the finish line at the Kettle Moraine 100, 2016.

Dirty German 50, 2017.

Third place (54.5 miles) at the Dogwood 12-Hour, 2018

Well, this year is different. I haven’t chosen a BHARG, and my strength training has been hampered due to lingering back stiffness. Had this been any of the previous three years, I’d be frustrated with the wrench tossed into my carefully laid plans. This year? Not so much. And I’m cool with it.

So what happened?

My attitude toward staying fit and challenging myself is as strong as ever. And there’s no shortage of races that look fun and suitably punishing. I just didn’t have the same enthusiasm to pursue the usual program this time. After wondering why for a while, I decided to stop worrying and just go with it. Perhaps my subconscious was telling me it was time to change things up.

For instance, I’ve been wanting to improve shorter distance times. I’m pretty sure I can still improve on my 19:38 5K PR and half marathon best of 1:32:40. But I’ve kept putting it off. After the BHARG races I’ve spent most of the summers in recovery, and then been too busy working Zero Waste at the fall events to focus on my own races.

And 2018 was going to be a difficult act to follow anyway. After running 150 miles in 90 degree weather, earning two podium finishes at the ultra distance, riding naked through a major city, and running a 50K and practicing Vulcan martial arts in the Nevada desert with 70,000 self-expressers, what am I supposed to do for an encore?

WNBR Portland, June 2018.

Burning Man, August 2018.

With all this in mind, I met with my running coach yesterday. We had coffee and kicked around some ideas, and out of that came a basic plan for the year, with a focus on improving my shorter distance event times. I signed up for two events right there and then, and added a couple more today. The enthusiasm is back, folks!

In my next post I’ll share my training plan and which races I’ve signed up for. And I’ve already started on the plan for 2020, which will definitely include a BHARG. Watch this space for developments!

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P.S. And by the way, I haven’t been idle while I worked all this out. At the end of December I ran a “Fat Ass” event with some equally trail-crazy folks. I enjoyed it a lot; a dusting of snow brightened up the woods, and an “aid station” of brownies and a shot of cinnamon schnapps provided the energy to carry me 21 miles.

And last month, like I have since 2014, I strapped on the snowshoes and ran the Bigfoot 5K up in Traverse City. It was colder than usual, but trail conditions were excellent, and I finished in the top 10 for the first time!

Sprinting to a 7th place finish!

Feeling Positive

“So how are you feeling?” coach Marie asked me yesterday before our Wednesday night run at the new lululemon store. “Feeling good,” I told her, “ready to run.”

Yep, pretty squirrelly.

Yep, pretty squirrelly all right.

Last night’s six-miler with PR Fitness was my first run since completing the 50-miler at Run Woodstock, and I’d been looking forward to it all week. I understand the need to rest and recover after an ultramarathon, but I was starting to get squirrelly. My legs started out a bit sluggish, but after a mile or so I was back in the groove. It helped that it was a beautiful warm evening and that the rest of the group was upbeat too.

I’m convinced that one reason I became a regular runner is the attitude of the people I’ve run with. Whether it’s a group run, a small 5K, or a major marathon, everyone has been so happy to be there, it couldn’t help but rub off on me. Emotions are contagious, and so, I believe is energy. How can you not get fired up to run when everyone else is raring to go?

The Wednesday night group. Can't you tell they're brimming with enthusiasm?

The Wednesday night group. They’re practically bursting with enthusiasm. Trust me.

The attitude toward other runners is equally positive. Runners are incredibly supportive of each other, and are quick with encouragement, especially with newer runners. Training for your first 5K and feeling self-conscious telling that to marathoners? Don’t be. They were all in that place once. My first 5K was just five years ago. Amazing what you can do if you just keep showing up and running.

The ultra at Woodstock was just the most recent example. After the crowd on the trail cleared and my pace picked up, I began to pass other runners. Many of them were 100-milers who’d been out there 18 hours or more, and could easily be forgiven for being a bit cranky at having to move over. But what did I hear in return? “Good job,” “Go get ’em!” “Finish strong!” and the like. Not once did someone grumble or make a crack about bright-eyed, fresh-legged runners of lesser races.

Well, okay, I overheard one crack. But it wasn’t directed at me – it was a 100-mile veteran complaining how the 50K runners messed up the trail and aid stations while the longer runners kept them clean. She had a point – road marathons have large crews at the aid stations, and clearing a road of cups and such is relatively easy. Not so on the trail. So yeah, you short runners, don’t litter. But keep on running! We’re pulling for you.

The Woodstock Sunday morning runners head for the woods. (I heard a few "Oh, my legs!" but no one stopped running.)

The Woodstock Sunday morning runners head for the woods. (I heard a few “Oh, my legs!” but no one stopped running.)