Tag Archives: winter

every step

I’m procrastinating a little.

It’s day two of our January thaw.

It’s 48 degrees and raining, which has glazed the 4th-class gravel road in front of our house with a sheen of mottled gray ice.

So, I’m less excited to get out there and put in the miles today, but I know I need them — as do my dogs, Dragon and Freyja, who will eventually lose their patience with my lassitude. IMG_8578

For the time being, I have been reflecting on and planning for running instead. I’ve been dividing 272 by various single digit numbers — 9, 8, 7 — realizing that only 4 extra miles per day can help me complete the Long Trail in 8 days rather than 9. Is that possible, for me?

I pushed to near 40 miles for a day or two of my Arctic Trail run last August, but then I also called it quits after only half the total distance because of a stress reaction in my leg. More training? The variables in Vermont are different, the goal distance overall is shorter, but the terrain more demanding.

I’ve also never ridden a bike 200 miles in one go. I’m confident, though that the training I started in December will make that possible for me.

Every step of every run I take is so deeply interbraided with these questions, with self-doubt, as well as with the hopes, aspirations, and insights I gain from reflecting on the why of it all.

Some of that why is this:

Experiencing our full humanity requires us to attenuate our self-centeredness by enfolding it within a much wider sense of self in which we experience genuine love and compassion for all beings, both living and non-living.

This excerpt from a short essay by Stephan Harding is part of a response to the question, “What does it mean to be human?” Harding draws on Arne Naess’s idea of an ecological self — one that is larger than just our individual self that encompasses the whole of the human and non-human worlds.

I share Stephan Harding’s belief that

…the most pressing challenge for our times is to awaken the ecological selves of as many people as possible within the shortest possible time.

This is exactly why I’ve come to do the things I do —

If I can connect my footfall on the icy gravel outside my own door to my more far-flung adventures in the Arctic to conversations with middle-school students about climate change to, finally, building resilient communities, I hope that I can help awaken at least some of our collective ecological selves.

Now, time to strap on the microspikes and get out that door.

 

 

 

 

In all things

I am honored to have been featured by several news organizations this week. Articles about Climate Run were printed in today’s editions of The Times Argus Newspaper and the Caledonian Record. Earlier this week, Vermont Biz, VT Digger, and USA Running all posted articles about the 2017 Arctic Trail Run.

In the Caledonian Record, I was quoted as saying,

“Climate resilience isn’t about just one intervention, or several. It’s looking at the entanglement of infrastructure, culture, policies, and ecology, and seeing what we can do to not just mitigate our impact but to build more intentional and resilient relationships between social and ecological systems.”

 

“It’s not about saving nature, it’s about saving us,” he said.

“Saving us” is about celebrating individuals, building whole communities, and fostering resilient relationships with one another and across boundary lines. If we can’t do that, then how can we even begin to take meaningful action with respect to our larger world?

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Sometimes it can be pretty hard to be out on a long run. Particularly on a cold mid-winter late afternoon in northern Vermont, it can be hard even to get out the door! But when my body warms up and I embrace the rhythm of the run, I’m reminded nearly every time that running isn’t just about the exertion and a means to push through to the finish.

Rather, I like to think of my running itself as writing a narrative of openness, acceptance, and understanding of my place in this larger world—as I run, I feel boundaries begin to blur, and I find myself on a gradient between self and world.

By looking at the landscape at a small scale—something that running (and walking, and skiing, and so on) almost always requires us to do—we can begin to make our connections to natural places at the same time more dynamic, more entwined, and more resilient.

Anything that underscores the tangible, real physicality of individual and community connections with ecological systems—through sport, endurance, and recreation—can be an essential foundation for meaningful conversations not just about ‘the environment,’ but about our communities and about ourselves.

What do I hope for? For no less than to use my experience to begin writing a new narrative that integrates communities and individuals more intentionally with the ecological future of our world.

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Goals vs. Expectations

I had planned a long run for yesterday, January 1, to start off the New Year — and the Climate Run 500-mile Challenge — on strong footing. Of the 14 or so miles I had planned, I finished just over 6, mostly because despite how stunningly beautiful the alpine scenery along New Hampshire’s Franconia Ridge, the 60 mph wind and 10°F temps added up to a bitter windchill through which I had no intention of running 3 miles of exposed ridgeline.

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Instead, I retreated down the trail to the relative security of the stunted spruce trees on the steep western slope of the ridge and reassessed.

I could keep with my plan and cross the ridge — not particularly wise or safe.

I could go the other direction through deep untracked snow — tried that. Neither fun nor really feasible given my running attire.

I could go back down and run along the snowmobile trail by the road — not really appealing.

Instead, I opted to run back down the Falling Waters Trail to the trailhead and I realized, doing the math as I ducked under branches and around the tight copses of spruce and birch along the trail’s steep upper pitches, that I’d already had a long run/nordic ski day of more than 17 miles only two days before. And the lack of a rest day (unless you count a November Project workout as ‘rest’). And the total week’s run/ski mileage of 53 miles was 20 miles more than the week before.

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I’d started the morning thinking, ‘Sunday…must be a Long Run,’ never really taking stock or reflecting on the depth or the rich variety of my entire week. It was a vacation week for the whole family, and that made the training schedule a lot more flexible — and full of skiing, running, mountains, gym time, and group workouts woven into the fabric of family and celebration.

It was no wonder I was feeling a little tired heading up my New Year’s Day mountain run!

Long term goals structure my year in broad strokes — to run the 500-mile Arctic Trail in August, to run 2017 miles in 2017, to PR a pair of ultramarathons this spring, to train with my Sterling team, and to work with the new Climate Run Team doing the 500-mile challenge.

Sometimes, though, reaching those goals can blind me to what I’m doing day to day. Of course, I keep track of all my workouts and share them on Strava, but occasionally I need (as I think we all need) some perspective.

Climbing a mountain is a great way to find some.

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Winter Training #goals

This winter has come on cold and fast. When our running team came back to campus from the TARC Winter Fells Ultra 50k in Massachusetts on December 3rd, there was plenty of snow to ski on and a forecast for temps of -10 F. Around here, winter comes as a relief — it’s the season we wait for all year, and much of our holiday planning centers on being where winter is at its best.

That said, all of this makes training about a multi-stage ultra in August even more difficult. The appeal of nordic skiing and skimo (both great cross-training), time in the gym, and planning logistics for the Arctic Run itself can all take focus away from running workouts and a steady ramp up of mileage.

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Following Freyja on our backyard 6 miler

As hard as it may be to get out the door when in full-on conditions, it is honestly the support I feel from everyone as I continue the Climate Run project that plays such a big role in both keeping me accountable and reminding me that the goal is so much larger than just being able to run endless miles. It’s about sharing stories, (hopefully) inspiring others, and building community grounded in ideas of experience, vulnerability, and resilience.

I truly depend on the support I get, all of it — whether logistical, emotional, or financial — to help me get out the door and keep putting the miles in.

view on Abisko valley and Tornetrsk lake from mount Nuolja

Looking toward the Lapporten (Lapland Gate) in Abisko National Park, Sweden

Even though it’s still quite far off, I can hardly wait to be on the ground in Scandinavia, logging miles through remote and striking landscapes, like the Lapporten in Abisko National Park (about 250 miles into my run), learning about the impact of climate change on these places and on the people I meet, and coming back to share what I learn with as many people as possible.

Until then, though, I put on winter layers, hat, gloves, neck gaiter, microspikes, and headlamp, and head off into the afternoon dusk.

If you’re at all able to show your support through a donation, however small, please take a minute to visit the Climate Run GoFundMe page.

Thank you.

 

 

an early winter run

Fantastic training run across some of the Franconia Ridge in New Hampshire’s White Mountains today!

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