I've felt this feeling so many times. No many how many pictures I share on Facebook, no matter how detailed my blog posts are, even if I personally sit with you and talk about my adventures there is no way to pass on the Joy that I feel when I'm out exploring. At my core, I am a "feeler" and though I can use my words to get others to know things, I'm always caught in a paradox of not feeling understood until someone feels what I am feeling. Getting someone to feel what you feel is very different than getting someone to know how you feel. Some writers have a unique ability to do this. If you don't know what I'm talking about read Jenn Hughes' piece from Trail Runner magazine about the Hardrock 100 here.
Lately I've been unhappy with my blog and I think it's because I've spent so much time writing about things instead of capturing the essence of the thing itself, instead of extracting the emotion I felt in an experience and impressing that feeling upon you, the reader. Normally what happens when I start monologuing about this is I stop right about here and hold the backspace key for a long time. Not this day. I'm no Jenn Hughes, though, so don't expect me to make you feel any great emotion. What I want to do is ask a question. People often ask themselves why they run. Regardless of the details, I think most people run because it gives them a Joy that they are otherwise unable to attain in daily life. The question I've been thinking about is what about running gives you the Joy?
The reason I've been mulling over this is because I have a lot of running friends who seem to get frustrated by certain things in their running that are taking away the Joy. For example, Cory has been angry after every run lately because his Garmin is not uploading his run data to Strava. Data can be useful in training and can bring you Joy as you see gains over time, but I had to "ground" myself indefinitely from Strava. If every run wasn't faster than the last or if I didn't get a "Queen of the Mountain," I became dissatisfied with my run. I knew if I was approaching a popular "segment" I would gun it (which is kind of like interval training), but the reason I was doing it was to show others that I was the fastest. Strava was taking away my Joy.
On my quest to shed all the things that diminish the Joy, I keep thinking about a blog entry that I wrote around this time last year about sponsorship. I've thought many times over about deleting it because if any sponsor read it, they would incorrectly assume that I never want to be sponsored. But this blog post has been one of my most popular reads and to delete it would be to hide something important that I thought was controversial. If I'm about anything, I'm about authenticity. So it remains... and if you're curious you can read it here.
Now I find myself in a seemingly hypocritical place on the Pearl Izumi Champions Run Team. It's not a sponsorship, it's more of an ambassadorship. I get a pair of free shoes and a singlet and in turn I continue to tell everyone how much I love Pearl Izumi's gear. The reason why I don't feel like a hypocrite is because I was doing these things anyway: complimenting people's PI shoes at races, writing PI shoe reviews on my blog, wearing PI shoes until they were dead, and using my decrepit shoes to pot plants in. This company's gear enhances my Joy so why not get some kickbacks from it and make it official?
Have you ever noticed that the harder the thing is, the more Joy you feel in the end? Easy things leave a taste in your mouth like black licorice, not horrible but not exactly satisfying. In search of Joy we went on a little winter running vacation this weekend. We were exhausted before we left and camping with two dogs in our rooftop tent for three days with lows in the teens and highs in the 40s sounded by no means "easy." Somehow we came back more recharged than if we had stayed in our comfortable home doing runs on our backyard mountain. In a futile attempt to share my Joy, here are some pictures.
At Kenosha Pass
South Park puppy pick-up
Old girl still has the moves
Chalk cliffs on the way to Salida
The view from our tent
Plenty of room in this tent
On the Rainbow Trail
Little pup tries to herd me
Got snowed out just a mile further up
Dry trails in Salida
Lots of snow in Leadville
Running around Turquoise Lake
Closest thing I have to digitally capturing the Joy