I woke up with a horrible headache and the feeling that I was getting ill. I had crawled into bed with a headache after falling asleep on the sofa early last night and it obviously didn't help to sleep for 9 hours. After a hot cup of coffee, I slowly started to feel better. I had a longer run planned for today which I really didn't want to have to cancel. It's not like I've been spoiled with thousands of kilometres this year so that I can take some time off. Time off is more of the rule than the exception lately.
A couple of hours later I was still very tired, but the headache was gone. J and I drove to the misty Vitberget to run a hilly 10K on muddy terrain, and I hoped that my Body Combat-tired legs would be willing to continue on home afterwards.
The hilly 10K went slowly. The snow had melted, leaving only small treacherous patches of ice, which blended in nicely among the grey rock at places. I slipped on such a patch, legs going in one direction and arms in the opposite direction, barely managing to maintain my balance. The hills were not steep, but then again they were endless. They just went on upwards forever. Yes, that's right. Vitberget is as high as Everest. Higher even.
Once we were back at the car, I left J and kept running homewards. My legs were willing. My brain was even more so, believing that it was downhill all the way home. It wasn't, but somehow I still found the strength to keep going, running past houses, traffic lights, bridges. A layer of mist concealed the horizon, hanging low above the river and the fishermen in their boats waiting for the salmon to bite.
While I ran, I thought a lot about how one of the things I've missed the most since I got injured last March is the sense of purpose I had had with my training before that. Don't get me wrong. I run primarily because it's fun. I enjoy the activity in itself. But up to that point I had had a goal, namely to become a better ultrarunner, to build a strong body that could take that kind of punishment and come out the other side unscathed. After my success in Skövde, I truly believed I was well on my way to reach that goal. Now, I'm not sure I can run an ultra again. I'm not even sure it's worth it any more. And that is the greatest loss these last injuries have entailed: the sense that there is a point with what I'm doing. Still, the embers of the ultra bonfire that used to burn bright in my heart are still glowing. I miss those long runs you spend a whole day on. I miss the challenge. I miss the camaraderie. I miss the coffee breaks. Maybe one day soon I'll dare to dream again.
17 kilometres is nothing I take for granted these days. I'm thankful I can run this far without pain anywhere in my body. But is it the beginning of something bigger?