Some things take much longer than planned to come to fruition, but when they do, the joy tastes that much sweeter.
A little over two years back, I hit probably the lowest point in my running career. I was tackling an immense challenge: the RAGNAR Trail Rainier Yellow Loop – 5 miles of nearly continuous uphill running on a trail that was treacherous at times covering a 2500 foot elevation climb. I lovingly refer to this as “aggressive trail hiking”.
I didn’t bother to bring anything to hydrate with. I might have had a small water bottle but that was quickly consumed. I had nothing to keep my nutrition levels up during this run. I started out with a pace that was more reminiscent of my road pace than anything.
It utterly destroyed me.
It also gave me a mission…
I wanted to come back and conquer this trail, and be a better runner. I used some birthday money and sold a couple things so I could by a proper hydration pack. I talked to some friends and family who do a lot of triathlon and other events. I did a lot of reading. I developed a better nutrition routine for before/during/after my runs. I learned to listen to my body even more while running and made sure not to start out at my college race pace. I continued to put in the miles and the hills.
Two years later I was brought back to the hill that had defeated me, with renewed determination. There was a little bit of fear. I did not want to revisit that level of pain and draining, but I wanted to push past it too.
I ran. I saw the points approaching where I had previously met obstacles and I pushed through them. I felt my body wanting to push hard but I reminded it we have further to go and settled back in to pace. I kept hydrated, I had my Gu shots at the proper times. I never gave up.
I UTTERLY CONQUERED THIS.
The top never felt more sweet and glorious. I was exhausted, but I was triumphant. I felt like a wall had been broken down and new horizons had opened up. It was gruelingly glorious.
I KNOCKED 24 MINUTES OFF MY TIME
I leave this as a milestone to myself and a note of encouragement to anybody who stumbles across this. Keep fighting. Keep training. It may take 2 years (or more!) to reach that goal but it IS achievable in small steps. When you get there, when you break through, it will all be worth it.