around Brooklyn these past few days has been a rewarding feeling. Every now and then I’ll put just the right
weight on one of my quads and instantly almost collapse to the ground, just
like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, which is usually followed by strange
looks from nearby witnesses, but I don’t seem to mind. It’s healthy to have a constant reminder of a
good hard effort on a trail. A keepsake
of a risk taken, a simple goal achieved: to move forward all day long and cross
the finish line before a certain hour.
Yesterday I opened a bag I should have opened a day sooner, full of wet running
clothes smelling so pungent and vile I contemplated just throwing them
away. After all, if something smells like
that, will one cycle in the washing machine really rid them of their foulness? As it turns out, no, one cycle is indeed
not enough. I’m taking bets on the
50 miles this past Saturday on technical terrain with a total elevation change
of over 14,000 feet. To this date it is
the toughest course I’ve ever run on and I have a new-found respect for the
hills that lie an hour north of New York City.
lowest point came early, between miles 5-10.
While out of breath, stepping one foot in front of another up a steep
incline of loose rock, I began to panic and say things to myself:
even 1/5 done with this thing and I’m feeling destroyed. Imagine how I’ll feel when I’m 4/5 done.”
am I going to pull this off? I’m not
sure I will this time.”
should have trained harder on the hills.”
I DNF is it okay?”
“Yes. It’s okay.
I’ll think up a good excuse.”
DAMMIT! A DNF IS NOT OKAY UNLESS YOU ARE
“But maybe I can get injured. Soon. Maybe
I can just step on this rock wrong and get injured and then I will have a good
excuse to DNF.”
YOU QUIT SAYING DNF!!!”
right. Too much DNF talk. The acronym is burrowing itself into my brain
like a bad song stuck in my head. I
should say a different phrase. I like
Good Feeling by Flo Rida
The lyrics to the first verse start with:
shortly thereafter I was fine and moving along with rhythm and patience and
an aid station around the halfway mark I ran into
, who I casually know from the
Burning Man 50k I’ve run the past two years.
She wasn’t feeling well and the two of us started chatting. And chatted some more. And kept chatting. And basically chatted for the entire second
half of the race all the way to the finish line. And the range of topics we covered over those
rugged 25 miles went full spectrum, from wonderful moments of the past, to bad
experiences, and everything in between. I’ve
randomly met up with people mid race and finished it out with them before, but
this is probably the most in depth get-to-know-you conversation I’ve ever had
on the trails. There were moments when I
wasn’t feeling very well but Cherie was fine so she would lead us on, and there
were times when she wasn’t feeling good so I’d push the pace. That good ol’ spastic physical and mental Ultrarunning
Roller Coaster and we were riding it together.
When it was over 13 hours and 26 minutes after it started I was so very
grateful for her company and it was a good reminder of how big an impact another
person can have on an experience. The
hours flew by and when all was said and done we had a lot of fun and am
thankful that she pushed me when I needed to be pushed and was not grossed out when I'd take the bandana off my head to wring out the sweat.
as of right now I have no other races scheduled. Infinite options loom in my mind and it feels
good to let them all stew: Grindstone 100? A fast marathon? Auditioning? Writing a new play? Perhaps I
will stay in this place for a while. Or
maybe I’ll figure out where I want to focus my energy by the time I awaken in
bed tomorrow. And I know that when I finally decide, I'm going to commit to it. Because I like to finish what I start. But whatever happens,
whatever I choose, it feels good to have open possibilities ahead of me right
now. It feels freeing. And I
like that…for now.