Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tempus Fugit: Of running, mountain biking, and photography

Yep.  Another strange summer coming to an end.  I was hit by two not-so-serious but extended injuries early in the season, the second one coming a couple weeks after the Sun Valley Half Marathon in June.  Given my previous truncated seasons and that I really felt I was gaining some good fitness for a great summer made the second injury that much harder to take and sent me into the arms of mountain biking and photography.  I couldn't let another season slip by and, frankly, I'd grown weary of the day to day running aches and pains and worries about what they mean.  It was draining both mentally and physically.

So reluctantly, I threw myself into mountain biking, which in itself showed my level of frustration with running given how technically incompetent  I am on the bike.  I did my first race, then another three days later (a Nationals qualifier), then Nationals (in Sun Valley) four days after that.  Middling performances all (despite what it may read like), but it was great to get a number and race hard - and even more, it was great to be able to go full throttle and long without any of the pains that so regularly plagued me from running the past three years.  It was a piquant revelation: realizing just how abrasive the sport I love has been to me.

As the summer went on, I gained some bike fitness and a modicum of skill and came to actually enjoy riding (when I wasn't throwing myself into sharp rocks).  This last weekend, I finished the season riding Mountain Bike Marathon Nationals in Bend, OR (54 miles, 6,000ft vert).  Another middling performance, but I finished strong and in one piece and for the first time in a year felt that endurance buzz I love.

With that race behind me, I'm dipping my toes back into running, after getting out only once a week for most of the summer - just enough to stave off soreness but not to do anything else, really.  It's been a great homecoming.  Running is what I'm truly passionate about, and what I'm best at, and I'm curious to see where it'll settle in my athletic life.  I assume I'll probably need to split running and mountain biking - a compromise to be sure but if it allows running long and running wild to remain in my life, it's one I'm more than happy to make, and one I realize I'm lucky to have the option to make.

Beyond the trail, much of the unused energy from my little running/no-ultras season fed my photography.  Run Junkie has always featured photos, but after taking a workshop this past January and February, photography grabbed my attention in a way it never had before.  Really, it changed how I view art and life.  All this is to say, the hours I wasn't able to spend running on the trail have been more than transferred to thinking about photography and taking photos.  I'm still developing, of course, but as with mountain biking, I'm taking the immersive approach, hoping some basic skills can come around sooner rather than later.

With Run Junkie on a de facto (if unstated) hiatus over the summer, I thought I'd post some photos that show just what I've been doing these past months.

I'm happy to be back on the blog.  Happy to be back running.  Cheers.


Gretchen said...

Wow. Simply amazing photos. I couldn't even say which I like best, although the toilet and the beach scene both stand out in my mind as particularly memorable.

Glad you're back to the blog, and back to running.

Hank Dart said...

Gretchen, thanks very much and congrats on a great season. I really like those two photos as well. Hard to not be drawn to a two-sided toilet in the middle of nowhere.