Balance. In the context of training for and racing in an endurance event like the Virgil Crest Ultra, it’s everywhere. When you’re actually racing, there’s a balance to be struck between going out too hard and not having enough left to finish, and going out too conservatively and leaving “extra” behind when you cross the finish line. During training, there’s a balance to be struck between training days and rest days, between speed workouts that improve your per mile pace and distance workouts that improve your stamina and efficiency over many miles. And of course, there’s a balance to be struck between one’s “racing” life and everyday life (at home with family, work responsibilities, etc.).
Sometimes, finding that balance isn’t always straightforward. For one thing, balance is subjective. What may appear to be a perfectly reasonable training and racing schedule to the racer may seem horribly out of balance to his or her family. For another, balance sometimes looks an awful lot like imbalance, and it can be a very fuzzy line between the two. There are times when balance means over-committing to training, and the everyday life takes a back seat. There are other times when it’s the training that fades to the background, and life demands more attention.
Finding that balance, and experiencing how that balance can shift week by week, day by day, and hour by hour, was the defining aspect of Week 8. But first, of course, the stats:
Training Days: 3 (To Date: 30)
Rest Days: 4 (To Date: 26)
Weight: 154 (Net Gain/Loss: -6)
Running Days: 2 (To Date: 22)
Running Miles Logged: 16.4 (To Date: 184.9)
Average Run: 8.2 (Short = 6.7, Long = 9.7)
No, that’s not a typo. I did in fact list gardening as cross-training. Never in my life did I think I’d consider gardening a form of training, but after last week, I’ve reconsidered my position. Over the course of Week 8, I re-landscaped the back patio of our townhome, basically spending 2 hours each night on the project. Some of the tasks were mundane…like pulling copious amounts of weeds, tilling the soil with a spade shovel, and planting new native, drought-tolerant ornamental bunch grasses. But some of the tasks were downright physical…like chopping down and cutting up a dead 15-foot aspen tree, and loading and unloading 850 pounds of locally quarried stone from my Jeep. I felt like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky IV during the Siberia training montage when he’s preparing to fight Ivan Drago. I decided that, collectively, all these tasks amounted to at least one training day, and I’ve got the sore muscles and blistered hands to prove it!
Week 8 only included 2 running days, and neither run was a long-distance one in excess of 10 miles (let alone a 20 miler, which was my plan). As the week evolved, other things took priority over training. Marin came down with a case of croup. That alone wasn’t notable. We’ve been through that before. But as has happened before, croup proved a gateway illness to something else. She developed some type of systemic viral infection that at one point caused her fever to spike to 105, and most importantly, left her with terrible diarrhea. (It’s funny how, when you or a child in your family has gluten issues, you become intimately familiar with the nuances of poop. You know that not all diarrhea is created the same. A gluten diarrhea looks and smells very different from a viral diarrhea. But I digress…)
On top of the uncontrollable bowel movements, she’d stopped eating and drinking. We couldn’t get fluids in faster than they were coming out, and by Saturday morning, she’d been admitted to the hospital. It wasn’t exactly how we’d planned to spend the holiday weekend, but it is what was needed. Thankfully, Marin’s pediatrician and our preferred hospital are part of the same medical campus, with seamlessly integrated electronic medical records. Even before we’d been formally admitted to the Peds department at the hospital, they were up to speed on Marin’s dietary restrictions. Then, in a case of serendipitous coincidence, the nurse caring for Marin happened to have a daughter with Celiac, so she was especially knowledgeable, and we felt like we had an extra advocate on our side and watching our back.
Saturday morning had been my planned long run of the week. That was out the window. It was a stressful 24 hours to say the least. To see such a tiny person hooked up to an IV. To see our daughter, normally so happy and cheerful and active, just lying in a hospital bed all day, listless and detached, was deeply troubling. We ended up being discharged 24 hours or so after we were admitted. By early Sunday afternoon, we were back at home. Marin had improved (and continued to improve. Today, Monday, she’s doing great. It’s remarkable how much she’s bounced back already…).
Sunday afternoon offered an opportunity to go for the run I’d missed on Saturday, but I didn’t go. Sometimes, training can be a great escape from everyday life. It’s a way to disconnect momentarily; to clear the mind and decompress. But to do so demands having at least a little energy – physical, psychological, emotional – to sustain you through the run. I was depleted. I had nothing left in me to give to a run. Plus, the father in me wanted to stay with Marin much more than the racer in me wanted to train. And so Sunday came and went, and Week 8 came to a close. In this case, finding the right balance involved a one-sided imbalance – family over training.
Now, Marin is probably 90% recovered, and with her health improved, my training will resume.
Speaking of which: huge thanks go out this week to Karla T (my sister-in-law), Eluena F, Gluten Free Steve and The Artist, the Romero family (more beloved in-laws), and Mike L for their generous support of my effort to raise money for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. With your help, I’ve now raised $400 for the NFCA, which brings me to 8% of my goal of raising $5,010. I still have a long way to go to reach that goal, however. Please consider helping me support the NFCA! Every little bit counts. And every donation, no matter how large or how small, is deeply appreciated.