I am currently sitting at the airport in Portland following a productive trip working on new designs and concepts with the Arc'teryx footwear team with a few fellow athletes. It's a very cool perk of being with the brand. The only strange for me aspect of the trip was the hotel we stayed in.
In 2018 Laura and I did a bit of a world tour showing In Constant Motion a film about my recovery and race at the Hardrock 100. We travelled to eight countries, four continents and more than fifteen cities on the tour. It remains an incredible memory for me. One of the cities we went to on the tour was Portland. While there, Laura helped me put on some run clinics in Forest Park out of the Arc'teryx Portland store. From there we flew to Shanghai where we both ran the Lijiang Skyview Ultramarathon, perhaps the most challenging race course I have run.
As we drove up to the hotel in NW Portland for this trip I suddenly realized that it was the same hotel LK and I stayed in back in 2018. I recognized the ecclectic colours and the patio furniture outside each room. My pulse quickened and I felt a wave of sad nostalgia pulse over me. These unexpected moments still get to me. I have become a bit more accustomed to my reaction to the big events, like anniversaries, birthdays and certain places, like Rogers Pass, and I make space for them in my life, but it's the unexpected memories and often more subtle details that understandably catch me off guard. They probably always will.
As I walked around the neighbourhood I recognized the coffee shop we stopped and bought a croissant at, as well as the bar we had a beer at. It was a great trip and I cherished the memories in a painful, but comforting way.
I have spent the last year trying to find my feet and rebuild my life and my heart and I can genuinely say that I am happy and optimistic about my life and future. That's a relief because in the depths of my grief I did not know if I would ever feel that way again. Strangely, these moments of nostalgia have helped with that. My feeling of connection to LK in those places and times is one of love and happiness and I am glad to get the reminder, even if I miss her painfully at the same time. I don't want to live in a constant place of intense grief, that wouldn't be healthy, but allowing saddness and grief to appear, making space for it and the memories that invoke it and that it invokes, feels healthy to me. So I allow the conflicting feeling of smiling at the memory and crying at the loss to exist in me in those moments and places. I think they help me grow.
Workout of the week
Fall is a greta time to rest and recovery, but also to re-adapt the system and re-introduce speed after a summer of longer runs and days in the mountains. One way of doing this is by adding bursts of speed into your program. Aside from it being fun to run fast, these can have a great effect on run form. Doing the strides uphill reduces the impact force on the body. I like to choose a hill in the 6-8% range so you can actually get some turnover going for them
15 min warm up
6-8*15-30 sec power stride uphill (1 to 2 min full recovery - err on the side of more recovery)
15/20 min cool down
I like doing a variation of these the day before harder runs too. I find that they "prime my system" somehow for the tempo or longer interval sessions when I'm in my main running/training phase.
My therapist, John Coleman, has a wonderful way with words and I recently read something he wrote where he stated - "The question isn’t “Am I in flow?” The question is “What flow am I in?”" Accroding to John, and I would agree, "we are always in a state of flow. At times the flow is expansive and at other times it's more restrictive. However, at any moment, at any time, we can make a decision, take an action, we can shift our state to deepen and expand our flow."
As John has helped me understand, if we can be relaxed and alert, attuned to our environment, ourselves and the present moment, then we can have more control over our emotional state in different circumstances and get into a more expansive state of flow. Easy words to write, harder to practice, but it is something that we can work towards and can refine and develop over time.