Back in the saddle: Sundodger Invitational

There comes a time when you have to get back on that horse.

Oh wait, not that horse. That one.

Back at Sundodger

I took a nice long spring and summer break from racing, hard training, and much of social media. I’m not going to lie: it was really great. I hadn’t realized how much mental space all of that occupies until it went away. Instead of waking up early and rolling out the door for a run, I walked Alexa to the bus stop. I chaperoned her 3-day 4th grade field trip to Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park.

Hiking to Marymere Falls

And we took an amazing vacation to the Bar W Ranch in Whitefish, MT.

This is an all-inclusive dude ranch just outside Glacier National Park where gritty Western ranch activities meet well-appointed accommodations. We spent the days horseback riding, learning to lope, and trail riding through gorgeous Montana backcountry.

And while lodge-style accommodations were a choice, we stayed in an outdoor “glamping” tent. I’ve mentioned my aversion to camping before, so this was a bit of a risky move. It was definitely the cause of some packing stress before the trip.

But I needn’t have worried. The tent came complete with heating and air conditioning, a coffee maker, refrigerator, and luxurious private bath. And gave us a front row seat to the action and scenery of a working ranch.

When mealtime rolled around, they rang the dinner bell from the main house. Though I normally enjoy the research and exploration of new restaurants while on vacation, the freedom from meal planning was one of my favorite things about this trip. We could spend that time together as a family, playing pool or walking the grounds, and sit right down to a hot meal upon the ringing of a bell. This was, hands down, the best vacation.

It’s amazing what happens when you give yourself a little room to breathe. Changing things up gave me a break from the stress of training and pressure to perform. And as a result, I started to want to run. By June I slowly built up easy training runs. In July I added a little more mileage and a little speed work. And once we returned from the ranch in early August, I was ready to start thinking about racing again.

I ran Sundodger last weekend with less training than past years. In fact, as I embark on this cross country season, I doubt I will reach the volume and intensity of running that I maintained last year. It was my slowest finish there – 21st place in 22:21 for 6k – but it felt good to be back out there. It might not be a full comeback but there’s something to be said for sanity.

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