In contrast, I can never move a muscle during a run without intense concentration. Every single thing I am doing I am having to think about. Everything is deliberate. My arm swing(s), the direction in which my elbow moves (forward and not across), relaxing my shoulders and not holding them like a swimmer, how my hips are angled, the pull of my knee, exactly where and how my foot lands (all directly proportional to my body), pushing off my foot, breathing not like a swimmer but like a runner.....the constant download of things I am trying to keep track of can seem overwhelming.
I have never, ever looked like a runner. I look like a Donkey. I watch myself in the mirror when I am on a treadmill, or I watch my shadow in reflection on a sunny day -- I am always horrified. "That is just NOT what I am supposed to look like!", and I turn away, disgusted.
In the last couple months since I've gotten the cast off, I have started to run more. I am not certain I will ever get my head space right enough to ever get on a bike again, really bike again with confidence and intent, but I'm not thinking about that right now. (This last crash only sealed the deal, I think!) For now, I am fantasizing about becoming a runner. I have always wanted to be this, but always fell short.
Over the last 10+ weeks, I've started to lean out a little bit. I'm not feeling like the sloth I was 3 months ago.
Boulder, Colorado is renowned for its running culture; in particular, the varied trails to run.
For years I have heard of the run up Flagstaff. It has always intimidated me.... errrr, scratch that!...it has always scared the ever-lovin crap out of me. Recently, I've found myself thinking more and more about it - that thing is on my radar! Two days ago during a significant low point of a run, I tried to get myself going again with some internal bravado, "I'm coming for you, Flagstaff!" The Flagstaff run could utterly crush me if ill prepared. All self esteem would be thrown to the waste side, leaving in its wake a shocking display of mediocrity. But it's on my radar: I want to work towards being able to do this run.
I have hid from it for more than 5 years now. Even during my visits to Colorado (before I moved), I hid in shame and fear. No more. I'm preparing........
The Flagstaff run goes something like this: you begin your run from Balch Gym on the CU Campus and head to Chautauqua Park. You then climb a single-track trail towards the summit of Flagstaff Mountain....
....From the time you leave Balch Gym until you approach the trail's apex, roughly 4 miles in length, there is not a single step of flat land. In the 4-mile climb to the point of the apex, the run cruelly ascends at a slightly increasing grade to over 1,400 feet. The beginning of the climb is not too strenuous but once you set foot on the trail itself, you launch into switchbacks up the mountain that have reduced grown men to weak, sniveling babies. The rapid ascent almost puts a runner in oxygen debt. But the worst is yet to come.
As the summit approaches, the trail steeps so much that you'll need to grasp hold of your self discipline to keep going, or if your will is broken, walk over increasingly high steps that will tax your lungs and make your quads burn. Such is the notoriety of the Flagstaff run; it is known to transform and break even the strongest of minds.
Once the summit of Flagstaff is reached, the run levels out for a short bit which allows the runner to stabilize a bit before launching into the grand descent on a fire road that winds around the other side of the mountain. All in all, the run is said to be roughly 13-miles in length....and once you're able to do this run - simply DO IT - your opinion of yourself, and what you're capable of, is forever altered.
Most people in Boulder downplay the severity of the runs around here - but no one discredits Flagstaff.
I may not be ready to attempt this sucker until the Spring...or even the Summer.... but I will not hide from it any longer.
It's time to get going, Miss Sharpless.