It’s the Journey…

It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end.
~Ursula Le Guin

It is good to have an end…

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” ~Goethe

I could just run. Without the races. I know people who do. Well, not many. But the race gives shape. It makes demands. It looms out there like a great Leviathan that wants slaying. And I rouse myself, and find that I am capable of things I never imagined I could do. Or not. Either way, I am stretched and made deeper and more real.

This year the end is the Mount Desert Island Marathon in Bar Harbor Maine, one of the most beautiful marathons in the United States, on the outskirts of the stunning Acadia National Park. It will be my 6th 26.2, and my 8th state (if you lump in an ultra, and a half-marathon to the top of Pikes Peak).

It is the journey that matters…

“When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I’ve discovered things along the way that I never would have seen had I not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible…” ~Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Training for an endurance event always brings understandings that I do not anticipate. Revelations. Amidst the fatigue and frustration, the astonishing beauty, the miracle of putting one foot in front of another over and over and over, a deep knowing grows. I want always to be fully present and available for this.

On a somewhat less mystical level, there are disciplines in training that make me a better runner (and a better human being, for that matter). More capable. Healthier. Stronger. More resilient. These I constantly re-examine.

This year, I am revamping my approach somewhat to honor my aging body and protect my sometimes finicky joints. I am studying the Chi running method; very harmonious with all I am learning and practicing in yoga. I will also incorporate Qigong, an ancient form of “moving meditation” that centers the body and invigorates the immune system. I am ramping up my core and upper body work. In fact, I have focused almost exclusively on this during the off season. I will run only 3 times/week. The other days will be spent cross-training ( a combination of yoga, core, weights, swimming, biking, hiking, etc…) I also plan to do as many of my long runs as possible on trails to minimize joint fatigue (and maximize oos and ahhs 🙂 ).

Nutrition always plays an important role in training. As part of my joint protection strategy, I am focusing on anti-inflammatory foods and drinking lots of green tea (and water). I am also participating in a local CSA, and have expanded our vegetable garden to insure a steady supply of clean, organic produce. I eagerly anticipate Scott Jurek’s book, Eat and Run, (available 5 June). Jurek is a superstar ultra-runner, and a remarkable human being, who fuels his running and his life on a strict vegan diet. (Kenzie is crazy about his chocolate adzuki bars.)

Running, with it’s seasons of building and recovery, creates a wonderful sense of ebb and flow in our lives. A skeleton to hang other things on and around. It is difficult to imagine life without it.

Just for fun…

Mike and I keep a list of dream events for the future. Here are a few of the “ends” we hope to lay out there in the not too distant future:

Marathon du Medoc 26.2 kilometers through the beautiful French wine region of Medoc. Wine tastings and samples of culinary indulgences all along the way. Ironically, given the timing and proximity, we have thought of pairing it with…

The Camino de Santiago de Compostela The way of St. James. A pilgrimage. Not a running event, but an endurance endeavor to be sure. And a spiritual quest. Dreaming about fall of 2015…

Big Sur International Marathon California redwoods, Stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, and a breathtaking run across the Bixby Bridge are just a few reasons why this one sells out almost immediately every year.

The Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race A total of 60 miles over three days of running on gorgeous trails in the mountains of my native East Tennessee. If this goes well, then there is this little stage race in Tibet…. 🙂

A rim to rim to rim hike across the Grand Canyon South to North in one day. We would probably give ourselves two days for the return, spending the night at the Phantom Ranch.

The Inca Trail to Machu Pichu

Of what ends do you find yourself dreaming? What might pursuing that end make possible?