Tubing in Bandera

Yesterday Elise had an all day photoshoot. I went for a trail run with a friend at 6:30 a.m. When I got back from my run, Elise was headed out for her photoshoot. Shortly after Elise left, Mara came up to me and asked if we could watch something on TV. I said, “get your swimsuits on. We’re going.”

So we loaded up in the car and headed west to Bandera. The girls have never floated a river. And I didn’t want to go to the overcrowded Comal or Guadalupe rivers and expose my girls to college kids and their debauchery.

We love Bandera.

Falling out of love (with running)

I think I’ve fallen out of love with running. I started running five years ago for straight-up health reasons. I didn’t like the way I looked without a shirt on. I had love handles and man boobs. So I went to the local middle school track and I ran one mile. That one mile gave me that kind of hurt that I knew was good for me. So I returned the next day. And the day after that. And then it started to hurt less. It started to feel good. And it only took about two weeks.

If we fast forward through the consistency and I actually became a really good runner. I achieved my vain fitness goal of slimming down. I compared myself to myself and friends on sites like MapMyRun and Strava. I signed up for races and did well in them. I qualified for the Boston Marathon in my very first marathon. I beat my qualifying time by a mere 2 seconds, so that didn’t actually get me into Boston, so now I had this carrot dangling in front of me to actually qualify and run the Boston Marathon.

I trained hard for the better part of a year and I signed up for a fast marathon that would allow me to obliterate my Boston Qualifying time. And I did that. I beat my BQ time by almost 10 minutes. I damn near cried at mile 24 in my qualifying race. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. I remember all of those miles of that race vividly. I felt like I’d arrived as a runner when I qualified for Boston, and I received the “Congratulations” email from the Boston Athletic Association, informing me that I’d be running in the 122nd Boston Marathon.

I won first place in my age group in the 2017 Austin Distance Challenge, which is a series of 5 races ranging from 8 kilometers to a full marathon. I ran an ultra marathon in Bandera where the race is touted as “where everything bits, cuts and stings.” In my training I circumnavigated 27-miles of trails around Lake Georgetown. I ran 25 miles from a race where I’d watched friends compete all the way back to my house at the opposite side of town. I did this through neighborhoods and trails on our greenbelt. I ran long distances in 8-degree temperatures in Des Moines during the Christmas break as part of my ultra training. My beard and mustache froze. I captained a team of 12 to a division 4th place finish in a 223-mile relay from Austin to Corpus Christi.

It was after Boston that I think I fell out of love with running. I’d done the thing that I think most runners dream and aspire to do.

And it was just that I’d run THE Boston Marathon. I think I ran one of the most difficult Boston Marathons. It was 37-degrees. There was a brutal headwind the entire 26.2 miles. And it was pouring rain the whole time. It was an extremely tough race. I like to do “epic” things in my training, whatever my training may be. Like running 25 miles home from a race. Or running 20 miles in 8-degree weather. Or circumnavigating a lake.

So in my training leading up to Boston, and the conditions in which I ran Boston, I guess I thought I’d achieved awesomeness.

Everyone asked me what I was going to do next after Boston. I’d smile and say, “I’m not signed up for anything. I’m going to take it easy and fall back in love with running.” My thought was to do just that. Relive that first year after I’d started running for simple health reasons. After that initial pain went away and running was something I REALLY looked forward to. I loved waking up before my alarm and before the sun, bolting out of bed, putting on my shoes and taking that first step out the front door. The night before I’d probably curated some really cool playlist. I’d head out and haul ass. And I’d smile and laugh and think.

I’m trying to rekindle that excitement and vigor. I’m having a hard time finding it. Maybe it’s the heat of the Texas summer. Maybe I need to curate playlists and listen to music again. Maybe zone out to a podcast. Maybe be more of a social runner.

I think I get that running is a lot like everything else in life. It ebbs and flows. Peaks and valleys. They say in ultra running that there are lots of highs and lows. The lows will get really low where your mind takes you to deep and dark places and you don’t know how you’ll ever get out of it. You’ll want to quit. You’ll tell yourself how badly you suck. And before you know it, the low will be gone and you’ll crest at a peak and it’ll be an unbelievable high.

I think I’m in a low right now. It’s a long low. I’m hoping there’s a long high at the end of this, if I can find the end to this damn thing.

Until then, I’ll just keep trudging the path. One foot in front of the other.