Writing, Running, Being.

The finish line is a shifty Thing and what is life, but reckoning?
Ani DiFranco

Monday, May 9, 2011

Collegiate Peaks 50

My regular race reports are pretty boring. And I forgot all the trail names and significant climbs and altitudes anyway. First I'll tell you the final stats.

Time: 10:43
Place: 10th female
Age: 2nd under 30
Elevation: ~8,000-9,400 (4,700 feet of elevation gain/drop per loop)
PR (in Colorado)

It's really hard for me to remember what I was thinking at every mile.
Was it hard? Yes. It always is.
There were also times when it was easy. Sooo easy. Those are the miles that just float by like clouds. The ones where you're surrounded by mountains and trees and blue sky. SO blue. And the sun is in your eyes so bright... and you think it might be Heaven that you are running through. The river flows, dances over rocks and you feel just as fast and graceful.

The harder miles offer different scenery. Just feet and the dirt beneath them. Just you, looking at your feet. Telling them keep going. Fighting with them. The sun bearing down like a hundred pounds on your back. A far away voice telling you to drink. Why haven't you peed yet? Another voice telling you to walk. Stop. Another telling you you're too late. The real race is over. They finished hours ago. Straggler.

Then you find someone and you roll along together. You grunt to one another. Comment on the weather. Encourage him. Relate to him. Feel pain with him. Experience endlessness together. Make a friend. If you act okay, you are okay. Feel better. Move on.

Use the good times to get ahead. You have to take advantage of them. You have to leave the others to get ahead. You know they'll turn up later. It's still a race. It's still a race so your feet keep moving.

The days before the race, you never actually believe that it will begin, much less end. The first miles are the same. It will never really be over. The finish line seems as far away as retirement, grandchildren, death. You just can't picture it. But you believe in it. It comes, eventually. I sign up for these things because I hate when things are over. I am here to experience endlessness. I am also here to embrace endings.

I turned my iPod on sometime after the halfway point and listened to this Bob Dylan poem for over an hour. First it gave me things to think about. Things that kept my eyes off my feet as they focused on a bigger picture. I listened until the words left and only rhythm remained. Just something to keep my legs turning long after my mind had shut off. But the moral was always there. Use Life. Strip it all the way down to the good stuff. See everything and soak it up. You can't go everywhere. You can't experience everything but if you can squeeze every drop out of the moments you have then you're as rich as any world traveler. You might not get to climb every mountain, but you can climb this one. You can experience this trail. This dirt. This mile. This is a day, a race, a place that belongs to you.

It is not all physical pain out there. Sometimes it is only in your head. Sometimes there is none at all. Just bliss. Floating, flying, forgetting... But to me, the pain is the best part. The pain cave is the one place where you know you are safe. You are safe from endings because the end doesn't come when wished for. It comes when you're busy loving and being too loved. Your demons and snakes, things like death, debt, guilt, fat... can't get you in the pain cave. It hurts, but if you can find Peace in there, then you are free.

Bob says it all here.

Thankfully, the Collegiate Peaks were the view, not the course. This is the starting line.

This is me and April, my wonderful crew, before the race.
Going to races with a girlfriend is so fun! We talked about boys, applied moisturizing facial masks and listened to Amos Lee and Bon Iver in the hotel room the night before the race. Ahh, just like high school. It really took my mind off being nervous.


Anonymous said...

I'm so proud of you and impressed, but even more than that I love your thought process. You remind me of who I want to be when I get the world flying in the face and can't discern my steps, both smooth and trying. Thanks for writing this. Can't wait for coffee when you return.

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