Hay, barn, and other cliched cattle
With less than 48 hours to go before the most important race of the year to me, the typical runner expression is “the hay is in the barn.” Of course, I only have a cursory knowledge of barns and farms and the like and have never actually put any hay in any barn. Actually, when I think of that expression, I do not immediately think of how it’s a good metaphor for all the training I could possibly do to run the best race I possibly can is now completed and doing anything more will produce no extra improvement.No, what I think of when I hear or read or say that expression is of a big red barn full of hay ablaze in the middle of some sad looking farm in the middle of the country. Totally en fuego. This is probably a carryover from my younger pyrophilic days (ya know, just like EVERY boy aged 5-20ish).
But, incendiary imaging aside, the statement IS true for me right now. For the past few months I have been very fastidious about doing the work I need to do to run the way I want to run now. With 48 hours to go there’s really nothing more I can do. So far I think I’ve been good and smart about the taper. Yesterday morning I ran three mile repeats at Duke with full recoveries in 5:55, 5:49, and 5:49 and my legs felt like they wanted to go faster and much much further. I take this as a VERY good sign. The workout felt short and pretty easy; the same workout a few months ago would have left me pretty exhausted and wrecked for at least a day or two. Progress. Confidence building.
Apropos in that wrestling season started for the 6-8th graders at the school I work at and I am helping coach it. Wrestling was my first real sporting love and the first time I was ever faced with the same sort of feeling I’m feeling now. All the big tournaments were on weekends, which meant you had the whole week beforehand to just sit and think about the tournament and the pain you were going to endure and all that. I used to feel the same mix of confidence and apprehension back then, though I think I leaned more toward confidence than I do now with running. In running, especially this ultrarunning stuff, I haven’t been doing it nearly as long or at a high level to feel the same level of confidence as I did before I stepped on a mat. It’s growing, in leaps and bounds at times, but I still have a long way to go; this weekend is another step.
It’s going to be such a departure from the 40 miler. There I was all alone from the moment I left for the race in the morning to the moment I got back home. I ran the race with no crew, just the aid stations. I finished the race and hung out and talked to people around me but there was no one there waiting specifically for me. Stone Cat is going to be the opposite of all that. One of my very best friends (and the reason I’m doing ultras again in the first place), Ashley, is running it too; and I’m so happy to be able to spend some time before the race with someone else who knows how I’m feeling right now. My brother is coming up from NY (and hopefully will get to see me finish this time). There are a number of other people coming to help crew or cheer and whatnot. It’s excited and motivating — with all those people there because I’M running, I’ve GOT to make it worth their while (as well as my own).
Yesterday afternoon I got another amazing John Stiner massage. This time the focus was on making sure everything is loose and ready to endure hours and hours of running. He worked out parts of my legs and feet that I didn’t even realize needed to be or COULD be worked out. After that it seems all there is left to do is hydrate, rest up, and wait for the race to start. I can honestly say my legs have not felt this good, this fresh, this ready to just run and run hard in months. It’s an awesome feeling, and an anxious one. Good anxious. I’m ready.
I’m going to burn the barn to the ground.
Til next time, RUN HAPPY everyone!
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