Lessons Learned from *Not* Running an Ultramarathon

I was supposed to attempt my second 50k this past weekend, but due to high winds and a ridiculous number of downed (or almost-downed) trees, the race was cancelled at 4am the morning of.

To be perfectly honest, a small part of me was relieved; I'd been nervous about running under half-fallen trees (I watched a tree fall on the course during North Face last year, and it was no joke), and of all the possible weather conditions to run in, wind is hands-down my least favorite. I'll take snow, I'll take rain, I'll take heat. I hate the wind.

But once the realization that I would not be running my goal race this month set in, I was disappointed. I was angry. I was frustrated. I was wallowing in that when I got a text from another friend who was supposed to run that race: 9am. Local trails. Be there.

So I gave myself an hour to wallow, an hour to read The Pursuit of Endurance (if I wasn't chasing my own endurance, I could at least read about others' attempts), and then an hour to eat and change and get myself to the park. And then I ran for six hours, over hill, over tree--and over tree, and around tree, and through tree, and over tree, and over tree again.

February: A Monthly Round-Up

February has come and gone, ya'll, and with it that absurd holiday and the last of my pre-race taper. I'm gearing up for my first ultra attempt this weekend, and am battling a frustrated IT band and sore knee plus a forecast for 40mph winds all day. So, we'll see.

The upside of tapering is that it opens up a startling number of hours in each of my weeks (I went from an average of 5-6 hours/week of run time to an average of 1.5), which I filled with books as often as possible. Some were good. Some were... not so good.

You Are Doing a Great Job

Photo credit: Swim Bike Run Photo, 2017 EX2 Blue Crab Bolt 10k

I am in the taper weeks of training for my second ultramarathon attempt (the first was the North Face Endurance Challenge 50k in DC last year), which means I'm spending far less time running and far more time thinking.

People talk of "taper madness," and it's a real thing: runners (and other event athletes, I suppose, but I don't do other events) claim that in the weeks before a race, every little muscle twinge feels like the portent of a major injury, every day feels long and stretchy with elasticized time, every short run leaves your legs feeling like they are pulsing with energy, ready to go further, go faster, go harder.

Taper madness is a real thing. But what it fails to account for is the opportunity inherent in tapering. This is the time to think about what we are doing, and why. Why would anyone want to run more than a marathon? (Why would anyone want to run a marathon, for that?)

Reading Joyce for "Fun"

I had a dentist appointment a few weeks ago, and the doctor saw me a full 45 minutes late. I had rushed out of a meeting to get to the appointment on time, and forgotten my phone, and realized I left my wallet at home, so had 45 minutes of time to sit and steam a bit. But actually, I didn't steam. Because even though I'd forgotten essentials like phone and wallet, I'd managed to grab my current book, Dubliners. So I had 45 uninterrupted, unreachable moments to sit and read Joyce's short stories. What a gift.

When the doctor did finally come in, she apologized briefly for "running a bit behind," and struck up the requisite small talk when one has a book in her lap: Oh, what are you reading?


Are you a student?


Why would anyone read Joyce if it wasn't for school?

Book Review: Endure, by Alex Hutchinson

Ever wondered why you find yourself able to sprint the last hundred meters of a 5k race, when you spent most of the third mile feeling like you couldn’t possibly take one more step? Or why crowd support makes you run better? Or why people tend to collapse after they cross the finish line of a marathon, rather than before?

Alex Hutchinson, columnist for Outside and Runner’s World, tackles these questions and more in his new book, Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance. Hutchinson organizes his research into the limits of human performance into three buckets: Mind & Muscle (with chapters on how the brain interacts with our muscle capacity), Limits (pain, muscles, oxygen, heat, thirst, and fuel), and Limit Breakers (the science of training the brain to go beyond what we think we can do).

January: A Monthly Round-Up

January came and went in a flash, as far as I can tell. I was sick for a solid chunk of the month, so maybe that's what made it fly by; something about losing two weeks to the couch and The Crown made my sense of time a little wibbly-wobbly.

Despite said setbacks, though, it was a good month for reading:

#24in48: Plans, Plans, Plans


potential tbr for 24in48

I love books and I love bookish people, so a weekend of bookish people coming together across the world to read books is basically my favorite thing of all time. I'm excited to be joining Kristen in supporting Rachel with 24in48 activities again this go-'round, and I really really hope you all will come read along with us. (If a weekend of books with other bookish people isn't enough to sell you, will this amazing list of prizes tip your decision?)

My weekend is unfortunately slightly packed with non-reading activities (I'll be running most of the day Saturday, then attending a running club event Saturday evening), but I've got a stack of book set aside for Sunday nonetheless. As I mentioned on Instagram, the stack is born of indecision, not ambition; if I finish even one of these bad boys, I'll be a happy camper. Right now, Hearts Invisible Furies is at the top of my list, because SO many people have told me to read it now that I can't keep ignoring them all. But who knows; maybe something else will strike my fancy in the moment.

Are you participating? If so, let me know where you'll be updating and I'll do my best to stop on by as I am able. [It's not too late to sign up, either. Just head to 24in48.com to join in.] 

And I'd love to know which book from my stack you think I should start with!