Saturday I was scheduled to do a core body workout. Half way through it my core was saying “no mas” and I became frustrated at myself. I was mad that I could not finish a workout, yet the day was so nice that I decided to take go for a trail run. I decided to give the San Clemente Big Loop another try. I had attempted this run before going from the coast to the trails. This first attempt I learned how truly easy it is to quit. (LINK to first attempt) I finished about 12 miles that time, got to the trails near dark and did not have the heart or the will to push on. I know the trails, but with no headlamp, no food, and little water I called for a ride, better to give it a go another day. I was beat and I hung my head low for a few days after that one. But giving myself time to mellow out and train more I decided I would be really testing myself and making up for my bad workout if I started my trek at noon…yeah first of many smart ideas.
Miles 1-6 I was coasting along with no real goal because I actively tried to not think about the end of the run. I was more concerned with staying hydrated and avoiding my archenemy the “Artichoke Thistle.” I cruised along and before I knew it I was on smooth trails that cushioned each foot fall.
Miles 6-10 this section was some fire roads and tough enough to be trails but close enough to civilization to not be too scared if anything came along. There were some other runners and hikers around so I did not get lonely, well nI did get lonely when “only the lonely” came on my iPod…yeah probably not the best choice since I really had no clue how long I would be out.
Mile 6-14 the technical stuff. I had done this route on a mountain bike before. This section involved single track, loose rocks and fallen over trees. I got disoriented a few times because the rain over the last few weeks really changed to look of the whole trail. I took some awesome pictures (link). Anyway, saw two snakes and a few miles later I was on a long road.
Miles 14-20 The first part was a road whose end was the entrance to a military base…the entrance was closed due to flooding so I was out of luck when needing to refill my camelback. It reminded me of the road the guy in “el mariachi” walks when he is being all Billy Badass with his case; for me it was minus the Billy, the Badass, and the case, just a lot of road I guess. The adjustment to the pavement hurt my knees and I could not get a rhythm.
I am sure people who saw me running through town were thinking “man that grimacing fool looks terrible.” Not going to lie I was tired. I actually thought about throwing in the towel more than once. But I promised myself that even if it meant I was walking I would try my hardest to get it done. This trail/route had handed my confidence and heart to me once it was not doing it again.
Mile 20-22. These are the miles where I grew up. I cried for a solid quarter or eighth of a mile. I was angry that my legs would not go, angry that my feet were hurting, angry that thoughts of quitting got to me again. I was really sad at this point. Like I said, I caught myself sobbing a few times. Not something I am happy to admit but it was like a rage/holy crap/hurting/letting yourself down kind of crying. I remembered a mantra I heard. I think it came from Scott Jurek, “this is what you came for.” Things made sense. I picked this trail, the road, the day. I decided when to go and when to stop. The truth is that this is what I had come for, to find my limit. In previous posts I have talked about finding the end, wanting to find where my heart said “forget you psycho count me out.” I sought my limit I wanted this; this is what I came for. I found it, and I pushed beyond it. When I decided that this pain this hurt and this tiredness was what I wanted my heart grew stronger. I became happy; I figured out that my limit was not some distant point, but a series of them each a little further than the last but all of the attainable.
Each time I discovered one of them it only led me to the next one. In these last two miles I found my heart, I found my way. I re-discovered that the limit is not what is in front of me, but what is inside me. Deep inside I knew, maybe I have always known that I am very blessed and that the choices I made to push myself are mine alone, but the will to keep going comes from somewhere else. That place where the heart comes from is somewhere I know and hope to re-discover every minute of every day.