Part 2 of my summer recap.
After I realized that I could, in fact, run without pain, summer reopened its doors. I’d like to think that I would’ve adjusted my summer plans with a smile on my face had my knee needed more time to heal—swimming every day and finding pleasure in non-running related activities—but I’ll be honest, nothing beats running in the mountains in the summer.
Now, this may seem like a 100% fun and free and happy-go-lucky lifestyle. With the right mindset, it is. But to an outside observer, it’s anything but fun.
A dear college friend, Nina, recently visited; she hadn’t witnessed my ultrarunning lifestyle yet and was surprised at some aspects of my lifestyle that I’ve grown to take as normal. I guess they’re not. So here’s to debunking the glamor of ultrarunning:
- It’s dirty. You want to run for a few days back to back while sleeping out of your car? Well, let me introduce you to a product: Wet Wipes.
I’ve gone well over a week without looking in a mirror. That’s my new normal. It rocks. Obviously, sometimes, I could smell better.
- You must constantly plan, yet simultaneously be flexile, while sleep-deprived and hungry. In order to maximize weekend after long weekend after full week in the mountains, you’re perpetually planning ahead. Yet, you can’t really plan when you’re already running in the mountains, so you have to make loose plans, all of the time, remember dates and friends and logistics, and then be okay with falling short on logistics. Like who brought the Sriracha? Who brought a sleeping bag? Where are we sleeping? What mountain are we running today? Will I ever get to sleep 8 hours?
The beauty of warm weather running is nothing is terribly critical planning-wise, as long as you’re at a trailhead with some running shoes, a pack, some water and some calories. 90% of summer in the mountains is getting to the trailhead. Then it’s all sweat, laughs, maybe some blood and pain and dealing with injuries. Oh, and a shit ton of exercise. I guess since all of my trail running buddies are constantly running, I forget that’s not normal. A long day out in the mountains means you’re stoked on hiking for hours, being hungry or grumpy, hot and cold, and then slamming your body downhill for some more hours. Then sleeping on the ground. I swear, this IS THE LIFE. Did I mention wildflowers??
This chaotic mindset of non-stop thinking ahead, whilst being present in the moment and constantly moving could make you go crazy and want a weekend in bed. But, I warn you: in order to maximize summer, you must stave off any and all anti-stoke thoughts!! Every opportunity counts! You want that sunrise! I can’t tell you the last time I watched TV. I do moan over the fact I don’t have time to read as much as I’d like, but I’d take that any day over boredom.
- Trail running is comically inexpensive. I barely spend money except on food and gas. And acupuncture. When people in cities look forlornly at my weekends, lamenting at how they wish they could be in the mountains, I say WELL, WHY AREN’T YOU? A weekend in the mountains is grossly cheaper than a weekend barhopping and Uber/Lyft-ing. You carpool to trailheads, i.e. share gas, you eat gels and candy and stale tortilla chips. You rarely rent a place to sleep in on the weekends, because you’re in your car or tent. The argument for staying in an urban bar scene falls short to me, if you do, in fact, want to get outside.
To my friends and readers who don’t live close to mountains, I’m guessing you live close to *some *trails or wilderness. Get your planning and stoke shoes on, organize a crew, and get dirty. From my experience, there’s no chance you will regret it, even if you don’t see one wildflower.
I’m so grateful to have the time, which is the most important aspect of my lifestyle right now, to be able to capitalize on mountain time in the summer.
What’s up now: I’ve left Colorado for a college teammate’s wedding in Virginia (GO TIGERS), and then will go straight to Latvia (more on that soon) and then Chamonix, France to race CCC, the 100k version of UTMB. I’m eager to get to Europe, but also know that a grimy, chaotic Colorado mountain weekend is where my heart is. I’m okay with my new normal. 🙂