Last week I wrote about one of my worst running weeks ever. Sure, I was still logging some pretty good mileage but I was exhausted, sick, and beaten down by the weather. After sharing that post, I immediately went for a run to shake it off and start anew, and voila- a good run!

I needed a change and I needed it fast, because my longest back-to-back runs ever were coming up and I needed my body to cooperate.

Fast forward to Saturday morning. [intlink id=”6325″ type=”page” class=”lbpModal”]Aron[/intlink] and I had been trying to coordinate a run together ever since we found out that we were both training for our first 50 milers.  I ran from my apartment down the waterfront to the Golden Gate Bridge Visitor’s Center to meet her, then we rode over to Rodeo Beach in Sausilito and started running in the direction of the North Face 50k course. There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky, and as we slowly wove our way through the trails, we shared training and nutrition stories, talked about the weeks ahead, and how much we’ve both loved the transition to trail running. We both tried fueling with “real food”, her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, me pretzels. We were so busy talking and enjoying the scenery that we hardly realized the 18 miles had passed. (Ps: Aron also recapped our run on her blog…)

View of Sausilito from Marincello Trail

The next day, I laced up for day 2, nervous about running another 24 miles. I packed plenty of pretzels, GU, bars, salt tablets, chapstick, sunblock, the works. After running over the bridge, I met up with Wendi and we connected to the SCA trail. The weather was incredible again, sunny, not too hot, and not too cold. Somewhere at the top of Fox Trail we stopped for fuel and I looked around at the views of the Bay, the hills with no one else in sight, and just smiled. Ear to ear.

Wendi was pretty smiley on Miwok, too.

In the last few months when friends ask me about the 50-Miler, they wince and grimace, hearing about the training and miles needed to pull of this challenge. Their faces say “ouch”, and “that sounds terrible”. But, standing at what feels like the top of a mountain, with only 6 miles left in a 42-Mile weekend, I felt like there was nowhere else I’d rather be.

Typical reaction from someone thinking about a 50-Miler

I finished off last week with a total of 72 miles- a new high!  And surprisingly, I feel great.  I feel strong physically, but more importantly I am confident, I’m determined, and I am in a good place mentally.

I know there will be good days and bad days. Some runs will feel so hard I want to give up. But, in the end, the exploration, adventure, and challenge makes me school-girl happy. Singing in the shower happy. Every day spent shuffling up the hills and zooming down the back side makes me love the journey.  So many runners focus narrowly on the end goal, the “A-Race”, but I’m happiest when I’m living in the moment of my current run. The training is just as exhilarating and (almost) as rewarding as toeing the starting line.

So, if you’re like me and have a had a few rough runs, take a step back and think about the last run that made you smile. The last run that had you thinking “I love this”. Then put on your shoes and go try to repeat it.

What’s the happiest run you can remember? Where’s your “happy place” to run?