The day after my segment of the relay ended I woke up thinking ….Okay….now what? I had spent the entire year training and thinking about running from Ohio to Pennsylvania and now it was over. I got back home and started running more with the San Angelo Road Lizards. We ran trails, roads, and just sat around sharing stories about running. I love being a part of that community!
I was also constantly searching for something to replicate the feelings I had while running segment 17. I even ran from San Angelo to Miles one day just to run somewhere new. I missed the 18 wheelers trying to knock my hat off as they flew past me. I missed the odd looks I got from people looking at me through their windshield as they passed by. Most of all I missed the adventure of starting in one spot each day not knowing what was ahead of me and ending somewhere completely new each day. I had a 100 mile race coming up in December and even though it was a six loop course I hoped that I would be able to find some of those same MS Run the US feelings amongst the alligators of the Brazos Bend State Park.
It was very humid even for Houston in December and there was a heavy fog that hung over the hotel parking lot as I waited for the police department to arrive. Needless to say, I did not get to attempt the Brazos Bend 100 race because of reasons that were out of my control. Normally I am the resourceful type person that figures out a way to make things happen, but that morning as I sat down on the curb I had nothing. The majority of my days since signing up for the race in July had been spent dreaming about running my first 100 mile race. I don’t typically subscribe to the idea that everything happens for a reason though. I believe that sometimes bad things just happen. It was definitely not a great day, but I still don’t hold a grudge against the person or persons responsible for it because it is my choice to decide how I remember that day. I had recently relocated from San Angelo to Amarillo and started a new job. The setback that day was a gift of some quiet time to slow down and reflect over all of the running I had done over the past year.
Eventually I started thinking about what it would have been like to have run the Brazos Bend 100. Had I trained enough for the race? Would my achilles have failed me again? I even wondered if finishing the race would have been enough to replace the missing adventure in my life, or would it have left me wanting more. I was certain that I would have needed an even bigger challenge to follow it up with had I completed the race. I spent much of that day thinking of what my next year of running would look like. I thought about how the Brazos Bend was 6 loops of the same trail and how my soul longed to explore new places. I also happened to be reading “The Rise of the Ultra Runners” that week as well. The stories of mountain trail races with crazy elevation changes, mud, snow, water crossings and switchbacks had found a home in what I like to call the “Challenge Accepted” part of my brain. It is not lost on me how much the hills of Ohio and Pennsylvania kicked my butt this past year and how many new curse words my right achilles taught me as it screamed at me with each step I took. That’s what makes it a challenge though. That’s what makes me smile. Thats why in 2022 I will be running mountain trail races.
I changed up my training the second week of December to start preparing for massive elevation gains next year. I am all in on the mountains in 2022! I do not have the luxury of close trails to run like I did in San Angelo now that I am in Amarillo. Palo Duro Canyon State Park is not too far of a drive from me and I can hit some trails there for training runs. I am closer to the mountains of Colorado now so I plan on getting some elevation training runs there when I am able as well. I have been researching point-to-point trail races in the mountains and my first race in 2022 is scheduled for the end of April. I have a date that my body needs to be ready so I am in full training mode right now! I also have another running adventure that I will be doing here in the Panhandle of Texas next year that I will write about when it happens! I’m still deciding on races to finish out the 2022 calendar with, but it is already looking to be an adventurous year for me and I can’t wait to share the journey with you!
I started doing math this week to figure out how many miles I would need to average the last 5 days of December to end the year with a nice even number of 1400 miles. I smiled as I realized how big of a challenge it would be with my busy schedule to get the last 39 miles in. Then I remembered that I had a different training plan for the next year and I needed to stay with it. I started writing this post with 1361 miles for the year. My original goal was 1200 miles, an average of 100 miles each month. I definitely exceeded my goal and I know that I will not end this year with 1361 miles either. I decided that I am going to do something I have never done before. I am going to start today’s training session in 2021 and run my way into 2022!