Kim and I did another 50K, which is two for this year. Not bad for a couple of oldies who have never run a marathon. Ever. Longest I had run prior to this year was a half marathon and the year before that was a 10k. However, this year was life changing, this year would be different for whatever reason. Possibly a pre-midlife crisis? Whatever it is I know one thing, I have found a community and a sport that are in line with my thinking. The ultra community is lacking in something that I find to be a huge turn off in most all other sports. Ultra marathoners are humble they are ego-less, there is no finish line douche baggery dance, at least from what I have seen. The ultra community, I have found, is always encouraging. You can be in a deep dark suffering place internally, struggling up a hill or crashing down it with some excruciating pain and someone will come whizzing by you and say “looking good man” or “hey look another strong person” or “yeaaaah ahhahahah wooo I love this shit man!”. My first 50k was fun, this one was epic fun. This was suffering. This was elevation changes that my legs were confused with. This one was just awesome beauty. This one was hey lets hit a golf ball to start the race and run up a gravel road. This one had me crossing a little concrete bridge and Henry David Thoreau’s freaking cabin is right there and he is writing an essay on the existential awesomeness of being ultra. The Lake Conestee Forest Freak 50k taught me how to prepare nutritionally so that I don’t cramp. I cramped so bad on that run that it was really uncomfortable, all I could think of was my heart was going to cramp because it’s a muscle. Right? I am going to freaking die because I didn’t eat a banana on that last lap. Damn it. I should have eaten that banana. This race, that didn’t happen. Did I set any records? Negative. Did I finish it in minimal pain? I reckon. I trained differently for starters. I ran more in the hills than the safety of the flat lands and as a result the rewards were astronomically beneficial. There is nothing to me that is more rewarding than reaching a peak of a mountain(e.g. Paris Mountain) before the sun rises and coming to the realization that there is no one else around and the silence, air and beauty are all yours. Once I carried my phone on one of my Saturday long runs in hopes of capturing the beauty in a photo. My phone or hand would be wet from sweat and wouldn’t function and so those moments thankfully are only mine, for you see, no picture from a piece of technology that has become the scourge of our culture could capture that raw emotion of utter content. I am so thankful of this misfortune.
With this run I declared an edict to Kim when she found this event. I stated we will start together and finish together! Unlike the Lake Conestee Forest Freak 50k we stayed together and that was a great thing. At least for me. I am sure Kim got tired of me saying how awesome it was. How beautiful it was. Horse walking alongside a fence as we struggled up a hill. Time passed and this race was not getting easier. Eating gels, drinking electrolytes, eating a piece of fruit, oh look another hill (side note I should have eaten one of those scones at mile 8. Holy mother they were tasty!). then Kim hit a wall at about mile 24. She was having some wicked cramping in her quads. Knots. Golf balls under the skin. She was completely depleted. I have only seen her cry once before and that was when she finished her 1/2 iron man. This was pain. This was anguish. This was childbirth was easy peezy lemon squeezy. This was I want to give up but I know you won’t let me tears. She was in a dark place. Broken. I gave her some of my gels and told her to walk and drink and eat. Drink your electrolytes woman! We walked, heads down, for a mile or so, I was having some mild discomfort in my knee so I appreciated the break. Then when I got bored with walking and when I felt like it was safe to approach Kim. I stopped and I looked her in the eye like the day we got married and said I need you to take a deep breath through your nose and store that air in your belly. I need you to go inside and make your peace with the pain you have right now. Accept it. Look around you. There is nothing here but beauty. There is no one here. Just trees and dirt. Now smile. It is time to start running. I expected to get judy chopped. She looked at me and feigned a smile and ran. She didn’t stop running for the remaining 6 miles. Actually our paces in those 6 miles were probably better than the earlier 24 mile paces, probably not. When we crossed the line together and were greeted by this crazy dude in a trucker hat I felt so happy, proud and so deeply in love with my Kim. Without her I would probably be fat and bored or have my head up my cell phones ass missing out on life while watching others live theirs.
Get out and run people. Get into your head. Get introspective. Remove the distractions. Run damn it! Run for time. Run for distance. Run to feel alive. Run to suffer. Run to get away. Run in the woods and see what is around you. Running in the woods when you are sleeping, that is my church. Run this damned race and find the peace you are looking for. If you don’t find it in the first 5 miles you are not running fast enough.
For more info on this race and next years event navigate to https://www.facebook.com/steepcanyon50k?fref=ts
All photos on this page are courtesy of http://boulderfilming.com/ much thanks to them because carrying a camera while doing this, that just ain’t cool. Huge thanks to the organizers of this fine event. I am looking forward to running it again next year and next year I am going to give you a hug. Screw that high five shit man. You guys are sick and twisted. That makes us family.