Looking forward

While I have spent much of the last two weeks looking back and remembering, I have at the same time been looking forward. I think that for me June may always be a time of looking backward and forward. A time to reflect on what and whom I have lost, what I have left behind… and a time to anticipate where I am going and who I am becoming.

I tried to remember to give myself some time off to rest and recover after the half marathon two weeks ago… but with sunrise just after 5:00 AM and sunset after 9:00 PM this time of year, who could possibly waste a moment of this rare, precious Pacific Northwest sunlight? This time of year, even on days when it rains, there are usually a few lovely hours to get out and do something active.

So I’ve gone straight back into my routine of running, hiking, and biking at every opportunity. I’ve actually ramped up on the running, as my Alaska cruise with the staged marathon is coming up in less than six weeks! To prepare for that trip, I have introduced three new things into my weekly running schedule:

  1. I’ve increased my weekly runs from three times to four: two back-to-back days, one rest day, and two more back-to-back days. This simulates the running schedule for the staged marathon.
  2. I’m now running on trails — real trails, not paved surfaces going by the name “trail.” My trail running shoes are finally getting to do what they are designed to do!
  3. Because the trail races in Alaska will have minimal aid station support, I bought a hydration pack and I’m learning to run with a significant quantity of water on my back.

So far I have only tackled one of our many local unpaved trails, but it’s a good place to start. It’s in a county park with many loop trails so I can experiment with different conditions all within a small area. I can run up and down hills, through meadows, on soft level surfaces, or in places where I have to pick my way through rocks, roots, and/or several inches of freshly-laid wood chips. I’ve actually tried to run this park several times in the past and been daunted by the hills and the uneven ground. Now I seem to be taking it quite literally in stride. But who wouldn’t want to run through places that look like this?

Or like this place where I lost myself in a glorious self-as-deer fantasy?

This kind of running is just plain fun. It’s play! In a way it’s more difficult than running on pavement. I have to slow down and pay attention to where and how my feet fall. But it’s possible to fall into a sort of bounding meditation. I am slow and happy out there!

I’m doing the trail running every other time, and very slowly increasing the distance. On my non-trail days, I’m focusing on consistency of pace and learning to carry and sip water with a minimum of fuss.

I was trying to decide what I wanted to do for my next half marathon sometime this autumn. I could run Victoria again, or I could search around for something new… preferably in a place I’ve never run before! I found this very interesting race in southern Oregon. I liked it for a couple of reasons — it’s quite near some of my family members, and it’s all downhill! Or nearly so. Oh yes, and it ends at a harvest and brew festival featuring over 30 different microbreweries. What could be better than a downhill beer run with family to cheer me at the finish? It finally dawned on me that since the races are two weeks apart, I could use the Rogue Run as my last long “training” run before Victoria. In other words, take my time, enjoy the scenery, relish the microbrews at the finish, and then taper for an all-out go on Victoria’s perfectly flat course. How cool is that?

Definitely something to look forward to!!

On non-running days (and sometimes also on running days!) I am taking some amazing, wonderful hikes. A few weeks ago during an extreme low tide I was scrambling around on rocks getting up close and personal with tidepool life. I took so many photos I had a hard time choosing just one, but this should give you an idea. I believe this guy is a short-spined sea star.

Yesterday, after a fun 6 mile run I wanted just a bit more, so I hiked 6 miles along the Elwha River, upriver from the two large dams that are being removed (I wrote about the hiking the lower lakebed here). The Elwha was running high and raging due to rapid melt from an above-normal winter snowpack, but the trail along the river was idyllic.

 

At a place called Goblin’s Gate (or is it Goblin Gates? I have two maps that disagree!), all that water gets forced through a narrow gap, perhaps 30 feet across.

Further upriver are the sites of several 100+ year old homesteads that are now part of Olympic National Park. The park service has chosen to maintain some of the original cabins and orchards as historical landmarks. This cabin was built in 1900 — wouldn’t you love to spend a night here?

It’s wonderful to have so many good things going on — long summer days with friends, being active here and now, and looking forward to greater adventures to follow. I may not blog as regularly as I intended when I quit my job back in February… but there is simply so much to DO!!!!

I know, I know (to quote myself)! — “How did I ever have time to work?”       🙂

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Posted on June 18, 2012, in Hiking, LIfe_goes_on, Nature, Place, Running and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I started RUNNING on trails, because I was in such a hurry to see what was over the next ridge on my ‘hikes’. All other surfaces / venues are somehow un-satisfying.

    Bruce

  2. Nice trails. Some tips on running with hydration packs, once you have filled with water turn upside down and suck all the air out as this stops the annoying ‘sloshing’ sound when you are running. Also look into ‘Nuun’ tablets at your running store as they are fizzy tablets that turn the water into a zero calorie flavoured electrolyte drink. I find they make water easier to drink (I lose 1 litre per hour in sweat so need to drink 1 litre an hour to replace it) plus I get the salts I am losing as well.

    • Pete,

      Thanks as always for your running advice. You have helped me so much in the past so I’ll certainly try the things you mention here!

      By the way, on my hike up the Elwha I ran into “Barefoot Jake,” who is a local minimalist running/hiking coach. He’s the guy who fitted me with my VFFs (which I still don’t have the courage to try running in). He’s now a “product tester” for both VFF and Luna, so he gets to try new shoes before they are publicly released. He was wearing obviously-much-loved VFFs that day, although he spent a few minutes telling me about a very interesting upcoming Luna variant.

      Lori

      • I’m in Vancouver in August on holiday so I’m trying to fit in a trip to Seattle to see the Luna guys and hopefully a trip to REI / Born to Run stores (I gather they are opposite each other) as I do like the look of the new VFF Spyridon.

      • Pete, I’ll email you privately — maybe we can get together while you are in this part of the world!

  3. Ii do love that little cabin in the woods! Running the trails must be very invigorating precisely for what you describe–both the impact on conditioning, but the gorgeous scenery! I’ve never been as far north, Lori, and I just must get up that way. I might not run, but I’d love exploring the trails. June is a good mid-point to the year and could nicely serve to look back as well as forward. We could all benefit from slowing down a bit and tapping into some mindful introspection! Not getting any younger myself, I need to assess where I want to go, too! The Oregon race sounds like a great pre-big show warm-up! 🙂 Debra

    • Debra,

      I think once one realizes that there is no longer an infinite amount of time stretching out ahead, it makes sense to engage in mindful introspection about what, from an infinite range of possibilies, one most wants to do next. I never thought I’d spend my midlife running multiple half marathons, but then I’m beginning to realize that running has the potential to take me lots of places I’ve never been: physically and mentally, literally and figuratively.

      In any case, I’m gaining confidence that I will actually have the capacity and ability to experience some of those back country trails that I’ve gazed at longingly, as soon as I choose to attempt them. I’m seeing that I can leverage my experiences into greater adventures, so to speak. That’s a very exciting prospect!

      Lori

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