I can't quite figure out why I keep doing this to myself. I'm not a runner. My body responds so much better to weightlifting and yoga and HIIT. Running is HARD for me! Every time I sign up for another race, I think to myself, "As soon as this one is over, I'm done. I'll back off the distance and just stay fit enough to enjoy the occasional adventure run." And then I do the opposite. I push harder. I go longer. I need more. It's an addiction. And it has nothing to do with the actual act of putting one foot in front of the other. It's about the connection. It's about knowing my limits and pushing them. It's about connection with nature, with my inner self, with the trail and ultra running community.
My family spent last weekend working the Blubber Creek Aid Station at the Bryce Canyon Ultras- 100 and 50 mile races. Every time I am involved in one of these events, I am reminded why I love this sport. As I stood at the edge of the mountain, looking out at miles upon miles of raw wilderness, I remembered. I had dragged my kids out to the middle of wondrous nowhere to help out and then camp in the cold while my husband and I stayed up all night. I had lifted, hauled, dug, unpacked, set up, built, arranged, rearranged, broken down, re-packed, and spent over 27 hours on my feet with little respite. I had baked under a hot sun at high altitude with my face over a hot camp stove, and shivered through the chill of handling water and ice in the middle of a chill night. I handed off hundreds of quesadillas, burritos, wraps, pancakes, bacon, sausage, cups of ramen, broth, cocoa, coffee and coke, barely remembering to feed myself as the sun set and the moon kept its watch across the sky until the sun rose again. I was physically running on empty. I felt coarse and spent. And yet it wasn't about me. I was exhausted and I felt amazing. As far as I was concerned, personal effort and cost didn't matter. It wasn't about me this weekend. It was about my friends. These amazing souls. These giants in spirit who dared to boldly go out where most dare not go, to shed the mundane, to defy the complications of everyday modern life and strip fully down to their rawest and purest, most vulnerable selves. To find out where their true strength lies. To see what they are made of. To make life simple, if only for a day.
It comes at me again and again- the meaning of the sanskrit NAMASTE:
'I honor that place in you where the universe resides, that place of love, light, truth and peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, WE ARE ONE.'These athletes, they are finding that place in themselves where the universe resides. As I am with them and as I serve and aid them, I cannot help but love them. We are one. These are my people. They are amazing, and they inspire me to go beyond the mundane. They push me to question the difference between 'can't' and 'don't feel like it'. They make me want to intimately know what I am made of.
So I signed up for a 50k. And all the excuses and complications and mental fodder are ramming around inside my skull right now. But I guess it's my turn. Time to get to work.