Friday, November 12, 2010

Invincible, After 40 Miles in the Snow

I know training is supposed to make you feel stronger. But I had an incredible experience yesterday that made me feel totally invincible.

All week long, I'd been watching the weather. Sarah and I had a forty-mile run planned, and the forecast was looking more and more bleak. We've had such great weather so far in our training, but hey - this is Colorado - anything can happen, and winter is coming. So it should have come as no surprise when more and more snow was forecast for yesterday, the day we'd planned for our Next Big Run.

I spent a lot of Wednesday pulling together my snowy-weather gear: warm tights, insulating layers, shell layers... you name it. I brought along my Kahtoola microspikes. I haven't done much running in the snow, and certainly not any runs of this length, with this much climbing. I was more than a little anxious as I went to bed Wednesday night, wondering what could go wrong if we ended up running through a blizzard.

But yesterday's 40-mile run in the snow ended up being a LOT of fun, even though it was incredibly challenging. The snowflakes, especially in the dark at our 5 am start, were beautiful. The quiet of the snowfall, which continued most of the day, gave the run a meditative quality that our other runs haven't had. Running in the snow was certainly tough - a bit like running in sand, where you sink in and slide back a bit with each forward step.
Two other challenges made this training run tougher than other long runs I've done. One was that most of the time, on dry terrain, running downhill offers something of a reprieve along the run, an "easy" stretch after a tough effort climbing. But running downhill in snow - at least for me - means keeping a lot of muscles tense that would have gotten more of a relaxing "break" on a dry trail. The other challenge - one I'm noticing today, a day after the run - is that my toes took quite a beating, knocking against unseen rocks, hidden under the snow. I'm definitely more sore today from the downhill tension and the beating my toes took than I would normally be after a long run.
The cool thing, though? The "mental toughness" aspect of yesterday's training is really powerful. I know intellectually that I'm not invincible, but following through with a planned long training run despite the weather, and then running a tough 40 miles through the snow, has boosted my confidence a lot. I'm starting to feel, as a runner, as though I can face challenges with an attitude of "bring it on!" And that feels great.
The batteries of my poor chilled Garmin died around mile 30, but this captures the first 9 hours. The photos, too, are a little odd, given the snowflakes that landed on the lens, but I think they look pretty cool anyway, and capture a bit of yesterday's surreality.

See you on the trail!
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