Saturday, May 16, 2009

Friendliness to all experience...*

*(Credit to Flora)

Firetrails Practice
(Lone Oak- Meadows Canyon- Seaview-Skyline-Return)
(14 miles)

To explain this run, I have to take you back to Miwok. As you know, the weather was um, miserable. Cold, wet, rainy-- not at all what everyone had predicted for May weather. Lots of ridiculous moments, as Suzanne pointed out on her race report. As we were leaving, (another Bay Area ultrarunner) Flora said, "Well, that was a day to be friendly to all experience!" I laughed then, because I understood what she meant-- everyone expected it to be hot, clear, beautiful, etc., and well, the experience was wet, muddy and cold. However, the Marin Headlands can be beautiful in all kinds of weather-- I thought that even the freezing, fog-blanketed, wind-whipped Coastal Trail had a certain beauty to it. So I got where she was coming from, but it dropped from my mind pretty quickly.

Fast-forward to yesterday. I got off work, totally excited about running a good, long run. The weather was beautiful, my knee is getting MUCH better, and I felt like I *should* be running well right now.

I started at the Firetrails turn-around, because I'm dead set on running that this year, and I'm going to start practicing running the trail NOW so that it's all very familiar when I have to run it in October. I ran the first couple of miles to Inspiration Point feeling great, but when I crossed the road to head up on the Seaview trail, all my energy disappeared and I felt like I was a lump running along. I felt SOOOOOOO tired. Normally, I'm a decent uphill runner, and I actually *like* running uphill for miles. Yesterday, I thought I was going to die if I ran anything that resembled a marginally steep grade.

The weather was still beautiful, and I took a little time to snap some pictures as I was galumphing along, but I was not a happy camper. I was totally resentful about the tiredness that was pulling my body down. It was ridiculous, I thought. The week after I ran Miwok, I ran several hard runs and I felt GREAT. I had taken it easy last weekend (school), and I felt totally justified in expecting my body to be performing well.

But it wasn't. I felt like I had been running for days, every step taking a major effort. All I wanted to do was stop. Then I started inhaling bugs (yay spring) and then, to make things even worse, I slammed my thumb in a cow gate. It hurt. A lot. By this time, I was about 7 miles out and decided to turn around, even more resentful about the crappy run I was having.

For some reason, I thought of Flora's comment post-Miwok. "Friendliness to all experience." I was having the experience of a crappy run. Or at least, the experience of not having my body do what *I* thought it was supposed to do. But really, was the run all that bad? It was beautiful out, and I was running through green grasses and wildflowers, with amazing views all around. Really, not so much to complain about. So maybe I'd walk a little more than I thought I "should"-- but so what? I had my camera with me-- I could use this time to take more pictures than I normally would.

And like that-- the run was fun again. I have been thinking about this since yesterday, and how so much of what we usually get angst-filled about is because it's not what we THINK should be happening. Recently I discovered just how much I'm among all the people who have been screwed by the mortgage crisis, and I spent a good day or so thinking about all the things I won't be able to do for the next year or so, but then it struck me that really, if I didn't have all these expectations, I wouldn't be so upset. Plus, I've been eating MUCH healthier as a result of my "don't buy any food outside the house" money-saving strategy.

And here's the kicker-- I took one of my favorite pictures ever on Friday after I decided to not be so focused on what was NOT happening in my run. Here it is--I like it because it isn't a view we often have of these flowers. It's a good reminder to me that there are many other ways of viewing an experience, and being open to them can yield beautiful things.


Drs. Cynthia and David said...

Very insightful and inspirational. With older grumpy legs like mine, I'll have to remember to be open to all experiences! It's been pretty hard lately with the very hot then the very cold and always the very slow!

I remember that climb- it's pretty brutal. I don't doubt you felt whipped after a while. I think that's supposed to happen!

Glad your knee is feeling better.


Suz said...

Awesome. I know that feeling completely. To quote Adi, "Let go of worries and concerns..."

I almost never have a great run when I'm really expecting to. So, I get a lot of practice at this :-)

Drs. Cynthia and David said...

I thought about this post again during last Sunday's run- we went out early-ish to beat some of the heat. Then David hurt his knee and decided to walk out on the road. I was supposed to hurry back by trail to the car and come pick him up so he didn't do too more damage. Got part way back and, whoa, a whole swarm of bees on the trail. Too steep to go up, down or around, and too scared of those angry bees to chance it- had to go back and follow him on the hot hot roads. Just kept thinking "be open to the experience...". Not an ideal run, but I'll remember it for a long time! (and he's ok, despite walking all the way back anyway, in the heat, but not running for a while).