I have a friend who is one of those people who is a bright light in the world. She wears colorful clothes and always has a bright, lipsticked smile. When I’ve run with her, she’s talked about finding your inner bunny—that part of you that lets you bound along the trail with joy, bombing down hills without fear.
Since the Grand Canyon, I’ve been seeking my inner bunny. I honored my body’s need to recover, and took some time off, slept more than usual, and mixed things up by getting back into the gym.
But my inner bunny has been shy about reemerging.
I served as the team volunteer for a two-day relay race on Orcas Island, spending several hours in 40-degree rain and wind directing traffic as different teams’ shuttle vehicles came and went. I loved spending the weekend in a beautiful place with awesome people, but on Day 2, when I had planned to go for an easy run my bunny turned into a slug and I said, “Nah.” (By the way, volunteering at races rocks—I’ve put it on my list to do more of that.)
I went to a cyclocross race to cheer my friend, Laura. She’s been kicking butt this year, her second in cyclocross, and has gone from ranking 44th in her category in 2016 to 9th this year. Heck ya!! She’s been encouraging me to give it a try and even offered to loan me a bike and give the beginner’s round a try. Uh … no thanks.
My friend Wendy is rallying folks to go back to Diez Vista 50K next April. I was seriously traumatized by Diez Vista last year: not because I had a bad race and not because it was a bad race. It’s a seriously awesome race. But last year it was pouring rain when we woke up and it never stopped raining. Sometimes it rained harder. The puddles on the trails were literally yards’ long, and sometimes deep enough that I would trip on the water if I didn’t lift my feet high enough. It was the first time I’ve seen people racing wrapped up in space blankets! So when Wendy said, “Let’s do it again,” my bunny said “nononono!” and my slug said, “Meh.”
So I’ve been trying to enjoy little jaunts in the woods and trying a little road running to mix things up.
Then a quick 10 miler on Rattlesnake Ridge turned out to be a slog uphill in the snow and my inner slug got very grumpy. However, my bunny was happy to make an appearance after I donned my microspikes and bombed back down the ridge. Yay! The bunny’s still in there somewhere!
Then Ana sent me a message to see if I’d join her for the Black Canyon 100K in Arizona in mid-February. And dammit, you know what? I said yes! So once I did that, you know what I did? I said yes to Diez Vista too.
That bunny had better come out soon!
So the days of the little jaunts are over for a while, again. Today was a planned 22, and unfortunately the slug ruled. It may have been a bit of a hangover from overeating rich foods for Thanksgiving or because my hamstrings were still in shock from Wednesday’s football-workout-themed bootcamp class at the Y. I started out with the ladies from the High Heel Running Group, where Edith led us through 10 miles on a new Saturday loop for the group. It felt pretty good, and I mostly hung out at the back and took it easy. After that group run was done, I headed out for another 12 … and the slug said, “Uh uh.” I dug in for another 9.3, but couldn’t find the remaining 2.7 anywhere.
While I was out there, I thought a lot about how to find my inner bunny again. It can be hard in the winter, when workouts often involve laps up and down the same climbs and/or loops around the same lower-elevation parks over and over. I thought about all the destination runs and hikes planned for next summer, and I pondered whether not hitting my target mileage for today fell under the category of “10% undertrained is always better than 10% overtrained” or under the category of wimp … or maybe under the category of “just take care of yourself and the bunny will find you again.”
Whatever it is, I realized something I think will be important in the coming months: For me, the joy in running comes from being outdoors—often with friends and sometimes alone—in the forest or the desert, it doesn’t matter. As long as I attend to the details of my surroundings and take time to stop and photograph the waterfalls … well, all will be good and I will find my inner bunny again.