Thursday, February 23, 2012

Patience And The UltraRunner

I don't know if you know this but one of my hobbies is photography (my website: I love to shoot everything from landscapes to portraits to cars to sports to the wild ones. Like the coyote above. Truthfully, the coyote isn't wild. It was taken at the Living Desert here in Southern California.

Photography taught me patience. It taught me to wait for the moment. To wait for the light. To wait for the "perfect" shot. I think learning to take photographs with film did that a lot more than digital cameras do today. Way back then, we hoarded our shots because we only had so many shots per roll, sometimes as little as 1 or 6 for my larger format cameras. You didn't want to lose out on a shot that happened later because you were too impatient and used up all of your film. And film wasn't cheap either, especially b&w film and it's processing.

So, I learned to be patient and to wait for the shot that I wanted. I can't tell you how many times I got up before dawn to drive somewhere and wait for a sunrise. Or wait at the end of the day for the golden hour. Or just wait to see what would/could happen. Like this shot of the coyote above. I waited outside their enclosure and watched them through my camera for a looong time. But it was worth it when he kindly stepped into the light to pose for me. It's all about the light, baby!

The thing is, I've been very impatient with myself and ultrarunning. Part of my problem is that I see others jump in and take off into the ultra world and I want to do that. I want to be running crazy a$$ long races in wild places. Now. And not just finish but run strong through the whole thing. But that takes time. If I'm smart about it, I'll learn what I need to first and build up to it. Like I did with photography.

After the Jackson Jackass 50K, I was really frustrated with how crappy my running was. My legs were dead. Everything hurt. I had zero energy. I wasn't enjoying my runs and it was really, really, really frustrating. REALLY. I'd signed up for the La Jolla Canyon 50K and then I was doubting whether or not I would even be able to do it. Then a kind soul on twitter reminded me that I'd done two ultras in a month and that they'd be on the couch if it were them. Huh. I'd forgotten that.

I think I was thinking I was invincible. That my super recovery powers would kick in and I'd be super speedy Lisa (speed is relative!) again in no time. I'm finally feeling like that now. I just needed the time to recover. If I'd had a little bit more patience with myself, I would have been a lot less frustrated. Lesson learned. Hopefully. I can't say I won't be cranky again but I will remember to treat EVERY race with the respect I should and allow proper recovery time. Not just jump right back into it and expect to be 100%.

So...going into this weekend's 50K, I'm feeling pretty good. I think I feel stronger going into this than I did going into the Jackson Jackass 50K. My entire body feels pretty solid right now (even my arm & shoulder) and my legs feel awesome. So I have big hopes for Sunday. I'm still not sure how hard I'm going to race it. I'm hoping that I'll put up a respectable showing. :) I'll have 4 weeks to recover from it before running my 50 miler so I think I can run hard.

I was really nervous about this weekend last week but now I'm really excited to see what happens. Cross your fingers.


  1. Oh how I miss photography! Running took over as my hobby. I ended up selling all my gear (my wife has an awesome kit anyway- it's what she does for a living). I'll check out your images! I used to love just sitting around for hours on end waiting for nature to come to me or heading out for really long hikes. I think that's why I like trail running! I used to camp for a week just to hike and take pictures. This summer I'll be doing it for a week of trail running!
    Good luck this weekend, you're more prepared than you think!!

  2. I'm new to your blog after seeing your feature on the ultra chicks page and looking forward to reading more. I can relate to the whole being impatient when it comes to the ultra thing!

  3. My fingers are crossed for you Lisa. Have a good run. 50K indeed!
    As regards photography, I'm very much a 'point and press' person though my camera accompanies me on most runs to illustrate my Blog.