The Journey to Western States 100 (vol. 3)
"You don't get to be tired today." That's what I've told myself every morning since being able to train again. Recovery from my back/glute injury was longer than anticipated and I had to take a relatively significant amount of time off from all training to let both heal. It was a minor setback in the grand scheme, but a long enough one to slow me down and impact my fitness. Sometime around the middle to end of March, though, I was able to start running and training again, slowly increasing my mileage and focusing on rebuilding strength through PT and yoga.
At the end of March, I ran two consecutive self-supported 50k training runs. Although both were difficult with my reduced fitness, combined they were a big confidence boost, and I started to feel like I was making headway in the healing process. In the middle of April, I ran my first race in over 5 months, the Peterson Ridge Rumble 40 miler in Sisters, OR. With the exception of getting off course and banking some bonus miles, this training race couldn't have gone better. I felt good the entire time, I had no down moments, and, despite some residual back pain, my body held up very well. Within a day or so, I felt totally recovered. Two weeks later, I ran the Capitol Peak 50 miler in Capitol Forest, WA. I ran both races without a reduction in mileage or a taper, and I'm happy to say I felt remarkably good and ended them both with a smile on my face. Most of all, I had fun.
As the weeks have progressed, I've continued to build my mileage with focus on recovery and strength training. Speed on the roads and hill repeats in the mountains."You don't get to be tired today." PT, yoga, sauna, repeat. "You don't get to be tired today." I can feel my body start to repair itself, though exhaustion set in long ago. That's not to say that I don't love every moment of training; just that life obligations, work, and other stressors weigh on everyone and they, too, take their toll when it comes to training. Finding balance and fitting everything in while still finding time to sleep and recover and the energy to make dinner is a perpetual struggle. Still, I wouldn't trade this time for anything. The hours I spend in the mountains are some of the most difficult moments, but they are also some of the most peaceful and rewarding.
As I write this, Western States is 58 days away. Although battling a head cold and an achy foot, I am generally healthy and feel good. I am fortunate to have the support of an amazing community of runners I have come to view as family, people who have shouldered my doubts through injury and encouraged me through recovery, pushing me to work harder and reminding me that I am stronger than I think I am. Every day I get a little stronger and move a little further along in the recovery process, and every day I am thankful for the chance to continue this journey to Squaw Valley.