Change is hard. It's really hard. But it's an inevitable part of growing up.
When I came to Boulder in June 2012, I still considered myself a steepler. Then, I was a short distance road racer who enjoyed running on trails, but didn't realize there were trail races shorter than ultras. After some nudging, I ran a marathon last April. Yet, when people asked me what I do as a runner, I never had a simple answer. I had discovered trail racing at the 2014 GoPro Games and after we lost my mom last December, I was spending a lot more time on trails because it felt more meditative and gave me a chance to talk with Mom. But, it's easy to get hooked on speeding over flat roads, and when you've spent so many years focused on hitting various qualifying standards, it's hard to just leave that behind.
So, this year I had been trying to do everything. Between trails and roads, I've run 24 races this year. Obviously, that's excessive and I've definitely paid the price with some pretty bad races and wear on my body. I won't pack my schedule nearly as full in future years. But, in a way, it's what I had to do. Every race had a purpose and I stepped on many of those starting lines chasing not my competitors but my own happiness. I was trying to figure out my place as a runner.
I was feeling that I was more of a trail runner after a couple big successes in the summer -- a win at the Summer Roundup 12k in Colorado Springs and 11th at the USATF Mountain Running Championship -- but I wasn't ready to go all-in. Watching a bunch of my friends hit the Olympic Trials Qualifying Standard in the marathon made me want to give it another shot. But Fall is great for trail running, so I talked my coach into allowing me to continue training for trail races at the same time. I knocked a few races out of the park, and had some big flops too, both on the road and trail. I became really concerned that I wasn't going to be ready in time for the marathon, because I had been having terrible luck with long runs.
I've spent the past 2 weeks pretty immersed in trail running, with the Estes Park Trail Running Conference and then the USATF Trail Half Marathon Championship, and I've spent a lot of time talking to my fellow trail running women. It occurred to me that continuing to chase times wasn't actually making me happy. If I had to choose between a blazing fast road course and trails with heart-bursting climbs and breathtaking views, it's not even a question for me.
I know I'm rambling, but I promise this post is almost over, so hang in there!
While I have an enormous amount of respect and gratitude for everything Brad Hudson has done for me as my coach for the last 3 years, I've made the decision to leave Hudson Elite. Brad is incredibly knowledgeable and a great coach, but in order to best focus my efforts on the trails, I need to start working with a coach who has a better understanding about the unique demands of trail racing. But, I'm not going to dive straight into anything. I'm considering running the USATF Trail Marathon Championship in Moab, UT in 2.5 weeks, and then taking some downtime to let my body recover from this year. After that, I'll spend a couple months building up a solid base of miles before figuring out exactly what my next move will be.
As I said at the beginning, change is scary. It's hard. But, if you want to learn to fly, you eventually have to take a leap of faith into the unknown. And, I'd say I'm ready to test my wings.
**This doesn't mean I'll never hit the roads, but it just won't be something I focus on or let myself stress over anymore.**