Thursday, December 18, 2014

Semi-maximal velocity

At Tuesday's trail trot, we ran part of the Mendon 10K loop. I grew rather fond of that loop this fall, until my fifth consecutive time around it on November first, when I got so very, very tired of it. But it was like just the right amount of time had passed between then and now and I was happy to see it again. I ran the hills this time, which I hadn't done during training (because I became an ultrarunner for the walking uphill breaks. And because the aid station snacks are infinitely superior). When we got to one of the longer downhills, I decided to run it. Really run it, not carefully jog down it, holding myself back for fear of slipping or falling. And it's such a fantastic feeling to just let go and let gravity do the work. I don't know why I don't do it more often. Okay, yes I do. It's because I like to keep my runs on the vertical, not the horizontal. And I especially like it when my bones are inside my skin, not poking out of it at odd angles.

Still, I kept thinking about the WTF race. I ran a good 12 miles of that course without any traction. I'm still not sure how I managed that. Beforehand I was all I don't think I can do this, all those slippery, steep hills. I'm going to fall. Down that ravine. Into the pond. I wouldn't have even considered trying to run without the spikes, but they turned out to be more annoying than helpful. I thought I needed them, but that day all they did was impede my progress. Once I let go of them, or more accurately, tossed them aside in annoyance, I was fine. A little relieved even.

The truth is that it's possible to fall at any pace, traction or not.  And falling is inevitable. It's going to happen at some point. On the trails and in life. The terrain is uncertain. Life is ultimately fatal. But I think the only way to see what I'm really capable of is to go all in, full-speed (well, maybe not full-speed. I don't want to be an idiot about it. Maybe like semi-maximal velocity), flying through it. And if I stumble, I'll figure out how to go all stunt double on that shit, doing some kind of fancy rolling fall. Yeah, I wish. I don't really think it matters how I fall, only that I always get back up again and keep going.

One thing I'm going to do in the new year is to work on my downhill running. Not because I want to be competitive. Actually, I'd like to do a race where everyone crosses the finish line hand in hand, like a giant game of Red Rover. I only want to be fast enough to keep up with friends and to be able to pace anyone who asked. And also I'm hoping that becoming more fearless on the trails will trickle over into the rest of my life as well.

Lyric of the moment: "I'm a boomerang. Doesn't matter how you throw me. I turn around and I'm back in the game. Even better than the old me. But I'm not even close without you..."

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