With an ultra in Switzerland coming up fast, I needed to get in one last major training run. Luckily, I was in Cappadocia with some friends. The beautiful scenery there would be perfect to distract me from the distance. I would run 40 miles out and back along a hilly route I found from my hotel.

The run started off a little rough. I was running along a cobblestone road with a long, steep hill, picking up speed as I descended, when I stumbled. I went flying forward and hit the pavement. My hands absorbed most of the shock, but my thigh hit the corner of a rock. As I started running again, I could feel the tightness where it hit. I knew I’d have to be careful about favoring the leg. Changing my gait even slightly could create problems elsewhere.

For the most part, I couldn’t have felt more lighthearted running along the wide-open road with hardly a soul in sight. Strange, pointed rock formations – known as ‘fairy chimneys – were set against a bluebird sky. They’d been carved from the outside by winds, rains, and floods and from the inside by early Christians seeking to escape persecution. I turned on my audiobook, Sophie’s Choice, losing myself in the story and mysterious landscape.

I felt so fortunate to be there, free of any care, free of any schedule. I love days like this, when my only goal in the world is doing what I love for as long as I want to do it, especially when the reprieve from reality feels deserved.

Twenty miles later at the turning point, I felt great. My legs were hardly feeling the miles. I made the turnaround in a little town where I stopped for Gatorade and potato chips to replenish. It was so hot that the salt covering my arms and face probably could have filled a saltshaker. I put on a bit more sunscreen and hit the road again, with only a few hours to go. I passed back by the beautiful rock formations noticing things I hadn’t noticed before, like openings to caves and small towns hidden high in the hills. In what seemed like no time, I was back on Cappadocia’s main street meeting back up with my friends for dinner, my training for the next race complete.

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