The sun is out today for what feels like the first time this year. The weather in California has been abysmal. Rain rain rain rain rain rain rain rain rain rain rain rain rain. Wind. And more rain. There's flooding almost everywhere in the low lands while the upper elevations have received an incredible amount of snow. It's all good for the drought, one might think, except it's been fairly devastating as the infrastructure here just isn't prepared for the deluge. Certainly not for two weeks of it.
And here I am, in the middle of my half marathon training. Needless to say, I have been running in some pretty shitty weather. It's better than the "dreadmill," I joke to people when they look at me and say "you're running in this?!" And yes, it's preferable, even when, as on Saturday's long run, the rain was coming in horizontally and the puddles were ankle deep. (Treadmills are some real "cop shit.")
I ran the longest I've ever run on Saturday: 8 miles. My runs are long enough now that I need to carry fuel and water — I wore a hydration backpack, but honestly didn't really drink that much. (I need to get better at doing so.) And I took a shot of maple syrup right before my run and again at mile 4 — carbs and electrolytes. I have to master the art of opening one of these running fuels while actually running, and choking it down while in motion. (Water, during races, is also consumed on the go, unless you're an amateur like me and then you walk through the water stations and stop and drink your Gatorade before starting again.) I've got to experiment with a variety of fuels to make sure I can open them, swallow them without gagging — this is partly a mental challenge for me, as a "texture eater" — and keep running without shitting myself. Fun.
Strangely, I enjoy all of this so much that I signed up this week for yet another half marathon. A trail half marathon. It's not until December, but it's in Death Valley. And there's a 6500 feet elevation gain over the first half, before you turn around and run that distance downhill. So that'll be an adventure.
I was in the mood for adventure, I reckon, as I've canceled our upcoming RV trip which we were supposed to head out on in a week. Everywhere is just too wet right now. Indeed, our destination was Santa Cruz, which has been hit particularly hard by the storms. Sscheduling another race and another road trip — even if for much later this year — was some solace. But there's also a real allure of the desert, which I fell in love with when we were there in December; I feel like we left just as this storm system moved in, and so I am quite keen, in many ways, to "go back."
And yes, I'm sure it's partially the weather, but I've been really quite sad this past week. Although I've long thought of her only in relation to her more famous father and her brief marriage to Michael Jackson, the death of Lisa Marie Presley hit me quite hard. She wasn't that much older than me, for starters, and like me, she also experienced the worst loss: that of her son. Can you ever recover from this? Honestly, I don't know.
We often talk about heartbreak like it's just a metaphor, but there are real physiological effects of grieving, and I do think that trauma — from grieving or otherwise — can quite literally break your heart. Every time I run, every time I lift a barbell, I feel like I'm trying to counter the damage that grief has does to me. I can't ever erase it or undo it; I can barely keep my head up enough to counter it. I will live with it always. And as such it takes an incredible toll on me — on my mental and physical health. No matter how fast or how far I run. Dark and dangerous like the never-ending series of storms we've faced here in California, it looms over everything.