Monday, October 6, 2014

Redemption Song

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
'Cause none of them can stop the time.

The truth is, I had to run a 50 mile race on Saturday.  The truth is I had to... for me.  There was no doubt that I had to try, so i didn't stress about it, I didn't question the need, I just went out and ran- because that's all it is, right? Yes. 

But I had to do it, there was no other choice- I had to set out to accomplish that distance again, to remind myself of my ability, strength, and patience. To remind myself that it is just running, but the fight to the finish is way more than that for so many like me. And, it was the first race I have not felt like a naive, disorganized, overly packed,  newbie. The wise words of so many ran through my head, and I listened to each. "Be patient" "Find the pace you can do all day long" "be in the moment" "breathe" "embrace the pain" "Run, it's a race!" "don't forget to look around" and "enjoy it".

However, for some reason I couldn't remember what a dozen people have told me about Moose. This was a bit comical as Cheryl (my friend and pacer ANGEL) and I were hiking up switchbacks and spotted a big fella mere feet from us. Cheryl: (yelling) "Aren't we supposed to talk loudly and let them know we are here!?!" Me (whispering) : "Or, are we supposed to sneak by him quietly and quickly?" I doubt the combination is the answer, but he strolled away from us casually, regardless.

I ran the first 21.6 miles alone on the fairytale trails of Park City Mountain Resort. Pristine trails in October bursting colorful Aspen leaves to the ground, welcoming the hard working feet of runners starting at 5am.  When the sun came up, I had just hit the ridge line after a gradual 13 mile climb, and the sun warmed my right ear first as I struggled to see the ground for moments from the first poetic rays of the orb dosing my eyes. I huddled close to the shady side of the trail and came in to the aid station over dressed, but very damn happy.

I could skip the next 6 miles and pretend this entire day was just the perfect combination of bliss, fall colors, and strength- but, it's an ultra, so here's the "ugh..why do i do this miles" I stripped my clothes, I ate some food, and started back on the trail with a heavy load in my back and that feeling that I had just gone 4+ hours, 16 miles, and hadn't even put a dent in this day yet. +***IMPATIENCE*** I had a difficult  time getting my shit together. By shit, I mean food, pace, comfort, running. I was irritated at my playlist which I aptly named "YOU HAVE TO DO THIS" Even with Kelly Clarksons "Stronger" blasting in my ear, whom I was convinced was an ultra runner just days ago as she belted out the lyrics " Didn't think that I'd come back, that I'd come back swinging, you tried to break me, but you see what doesn't kill me..." you get the idea. And yet, I was irritated at my own playlist. And, that's an Ultra, one minute you are thankful for your place in life, the world, the moment, and the next you want to punch the next person in the back who says "nice job!" as they zoom by you warning "on your left!".

I'll cut to the chase. Then, I remembered what Cheryl told me a few years ago; "Aid station to aid station". So, I just moved, one foot in front of the other- Eat, drink, run. Eat, drink, run. 

I got to the 5 way aid station and met Cheryl. I ate a half of an avocado, some bacon, and gatorade. "How are you doing on salt?" Me: "I've only had 2 all day" "Take one" "Ok". We got going, and we didn't stop. I wanted to get in and out of aid, because I didnt want to waste my time there. We just kept moving, and hiking up, and running flat and running down, and eating, and taking salt, and laughing, and commenting on the beauty of the trails. and... then we finished. And..I knew we would hours before and miles before. I knew it. I was in the moment, every moment, every section, and it was a Great day.

We were greeted by Karl (Meltzer) and Betsy (Johnson) at the finish. Karl as anyone reading this either knows or knows of, and whom I have known since I moved to Utah gave me a ride early Saturday morning. He was helping at the race, sweeping the course, following the very last 50 mile runner to Mile 21.6; A truly inspiring person and runner whose accomplishments and ability I think of often to pull me out of a bad running stretch- then call myself a p!#$$y and get my shit back together. Betsy who just finished the marathon distance, and waited over 3 hours for us at the finish! And, the first words out of her mouth were "I'm so proud of you!" And, Cheryl..who I originally told she didn't have to pace me, because I was going to be painfully slow...I might have made it to the finish line without her, (although I'm not sure) it wouldn't have been as fun or special without her. And, man! Does she know how to take care of her runner..and friends. 

The North face 50 mile
7 out of 9 in my age group
103 out of 125 finishers
13 hours, 29 minutes, and 4 seconds

No comments:


No one can really know Everything about you, but

I cannot live with someone who can't live without me.
Nadine Gordimer