Thursday, June 9, 2011

Back on the (Training) Wagon

The last few months have been filled with a lot of recovery and relaxation. I have rediscovered my love of biking and just being outside. Although I have always appreciated nature, the running miles that I have put in over the last year have changed that relationship a bit. This spring I spent time hiking rather than running through the mountains, and taking long, leisurely bike rides that allowed me to connect with friends.

A few weeks ago I started to ramp up my swimming and biking workouts, and I added in a few, shorter runs. I returned to the Tuesday night trail runs with the Fort Collins Trailrunners and was quite content with my place at the back of the pack. I am again reminded of how fortunate I am to be able to run with such an amazing group. Where else can you find folks who can laugh and joke their way through 20 mile runs up and down mountains?

My focus for training this year is balance. Last weekend, I did my first "long" run in preparation for October's Blue Sky Marathon. It took a long time, but I really enjoyed my time on the trail. Although training is a process of breaking down and building up physically, I am going to try to maintain a consistent upward trend mentally.

View from our campsite in White River National Forest
I followed that long run with several days of fun in Vail at the Teva Mountain Games. My friend, Danielle, accompanied me to the mountains near Vail where we met up with the May family in a beautiful camping spot in White River National Forest. On Saturday, the Mays (minus Alex), Danielle and I ran the Mud Run. It was 3 half-mile loops with a 30-foot mud pool near the end. It was Danielle's first race ever, and I got as excited as always when I get to be around someone meeting the challenge of a new run or ride.

This week, I have attempted to return to some type of discipline. The week has been full of little triumphs that have left me tired, but motivated.

I did a short hills workout on Monday and swam with Celeste, who is training for her first triathlon, the Lake to Lake Tri on June 25. That is going to be an amazing race because not only will I again get to be around someone meeting a new challenge, but the race is also a Triathlon National Championship Special qualifier. The top 33% in each age group will be invited to nationals, which are being held in my hometown, Burlington, Vermont. Based on my results from my last Olympic distance triathlon, I could make it, but there are so many differences in the course and my conditioning... and the inherent uncertainty of a race... that qualifying would be a great bonus, but not a prerequisite for happiness.

Tuesday I ran with the Trailrunners and, although I wasn't fast, I felt better than I have in a while. Wednesday I finally rode all of the hills along the Horsetooth dams. It wasn't fast or pretty, but I made it. This morning was an interesting 55 degree swim at 5:30am in Carter Lake. I wore my sleeveless wetsuit and my arms completely froze. If it were not for Celeste's energy and fantastic attitude (and refusal to freak out in her first open water swim), I am not sure I would have made it.

So, in sum, I am back on the training wagon. I bring with me a new attitude and a gentler approach. I am going to celebrate little triumphs and hope maybe there are some bigger ones and some fun adventures along the way. I guess they are inevitable when you lack common sense and the ability to say no.