You can learn a lot about someone by how they pack.
Some folks use a list. Others have perfectly-sized bags and containers for each item in their travel case. My brother wrote a whole blog post about his suitcase (his blog documents his life-long search for the best quality everything–luggage, glassware, ketchup. I swear we are blood related). Some people read internet articles on packing.
[On a related note, I have never understood some people’s excitement about The Container Store. These people don’t need The Container Store–they are already hyper-organized (“but Steph, now I can be hyper-organized in coordinating, stylish containers!”). People like me have no use for The Container Store. The retail organization concept I need? The Dumpster Store.]
I’m highly visual. I need to put everything out where I can see it, in one place, or I’ll forget something important. I once relayed the White Lake Half Ironman with Andrew–he was swimming and biking; I was running. The morning of the race, I searched in vain for my running shoes–they were at home. $50 later and I was one lucky kid to score the last pair of shoes in my size at the expo. [The painful slog in new shoes, on what seemed like the surface of Mercury, is a story for another time.]
Is it any wonder I gave up triathlons? I couldn’t handle the stress of preparation.
When I pack, I start a cache. Often it’s on the dining room table or the bed, setting out everything I might want. Like a jay hoarding food or shiny trinkets, I spend a day or two adding items to the cache. When I can see it all, I’m less likely to forget things. When I can’t think of anything else to add (or when I run out of time, whichever comes first), I shove it all in a bag and am ready to roll.
The Uwharrie cache is telling. Foam roller. Compression socks. Roller stick. First aid kit. Tennis ball and golf ball. Ice wrap. I am not a hypochondriac, nor am I especially safety-conscious (see Why Running With Scissors?). It’s Uwharrie, after all. If you don’t like to at least flirt with danger, this is not the race for you. But my body feels beaten. I have no problem with that either (see above), except that the race hasn’t happened yet.
The not-injured ankle is aching (but don’t tell Gyro–there’s nothing really wrong with it). My hip flexors are tight. My ITB is cranky. The massage therapist I see occasionally tells me it’s all caused by tightness in my left foot, which has a touch of plantar fasciitis. It feels like overtraining, but I’ve really taken it easy, so it can’t be that. Right?
I had a good taper run last Saturday, though, doing my favorite 8 mile figure-8 loop of Sycamore and Company Mill Trails at Umstead. I knew that I should stay off the trails and not risk an ankle roll, but I packed my trail shoes anyway. To my delight, the fire roads were even icier than the trails. I hated to waste the rare opportunity of running through the woods with a little snow on the ground, so off I went to my happy place.
It was a good packing experience too, as I let my mind prep for the much longer and harder run ahead. I laid everything out–every ache and pain, all my worries and fears, and then added some of my goals and hopes, so I could see it all and be satisfied I hadn’t missed anything I really needed. Then I stuffed it all back into my head and finished my run, feeling better prepared for this coming weekend.
Despite not feeling 100% ready, I’m completely excited about running Uwharrie again. It was my favorite race of 2012, and I can’t wait to get back out on that crazy trail and run 20 miles. Something I didn’t say in my report last year was that I wanted to whoop along the way but was worried that other runners would shake their heads and think, “another Uwharrie newbie–see you at mile 18 when I trample your broken spirit.”
If I’m feeling good, I won’t hold back on the whoops this time around. I’m grateful for the chance to run. See you at the campfire at the finish!