Tuesday, May 19, 2015

testing my sunny disposition

"you won't keep feeling this bad."

"you won't keep feeling this bad."

("it looks like a sunflower, but it is, 
in fact, a massive solar flare.")
that's what i told myself, many times, during my go at the 2015 sun mountain 50k.

other things i told myself:

"boy, am i tired."
"it's, like, 100 degrees here."
"why are my water bottles empty?"
"how far to the next aid station?"
"why are my water bottles empty again?"
"why is my knee locking up on this steep downhill?"
"after this race, i am never running again."

these are not helpful thoughts in the middle of a hot 50k. but none of them were as troubling as this one:

"i'm going to drop."

yeah, that one was bad. for the first time in a race, i actually considered DNF-ing. 

maybe that just means i haven't pushed myself far enough or hard enough. that i need to sign up for an event that will beat me down and keep me down so i can "see what that's like." part of this trail running thing, after all, is to test our limits and see what's possible (or temporarily impossible), verdad?

on the other hand, f*ck that. i have a loving wife and kids and dogs and a job, all of which require me to be mostly coherent and on my feet.

so, i'm torn.
"you won't keep feeling this bad."
"i'm going to drop."
"why is my skin turning yellow?! oh, sh*t, i'm having liver failure!"
"no, you're not. it's the sunscreen. see? it washes off. idiot."

(come to think of it, i thought i was getting some weird looks from the volunteers on the course...bless them. now i know why.)

this is, of course, what happens when you debate with demons. they tell you the worst things imaginable, and as we know, the bad stuff is easier to believe. our friends, on the other hand, tell us things that can change everything for the better. that's what happened at around mile 17, where i saw bill sepeda waiting for his wife, alley, to run by.

"i'm tired," is all i remember saying as bill offered water and sunscreen and a calm smile. looping past him again mile 23-ish, we talked about the hilarity of faux jaundice, about resting in the shade, and i don't know what all else. i'm sure i used short words, and not many of them.

i don't remember feeling any better after these exchanges, but i do know they put different words in my head. "i'm going to drop" was not among them. instead, there was...

"it's not going to get any worse."
"you'll feel better ten minutes after you finish."
"keep moving forward."

thank you, bill.
a sign at the last aid station says, "5.8 miles to the finish," or words to that effect.

"less than 6 miles. how hard can that be?"
steep descent starts now

ha ha. having run here in 2014, i already knew: plenty hard. because in between lies a bitter climb up patterson peak and its false summit, which reveals still more steep climbing. followed by a steep descent. not coincidently.

i don't remember thinking at all after that, except...

"don't trip."

i didn't trip. and a while later i found myself giving race director james varner a high five 
at the finish line. and then a double high five. and then kind of a side-hug. that got a little awkward. but i was really happy to be done.

sorry, james.
i finished 16 minutes off my goal time. less than 30 seconds per mile. less hiking, more running would've gotten it done.

and yet somehow i managed to finish first in my age/gender group.*  i don't know how that's even possible. i truly believe those people could've walked backwards and finished ahead of me.
"annnnnd...we're done."
(photo courtesy of daisy clark)

* important caveat: i got smoked, big time, by 50 y.o. joanne wild, from vancouver, BC. she came in at just under 5:18:00, to which i say, "wow." and "bravo." she finished 22nd overall. 
"these miles aren't going to run themselves."

2015 sun mountain 50k
55/150 (overall)
1/10 (m 50-59)
shoes: altra superior 2.0
i can't say often enough how awesome the people at rainshadow running are. so i'll say it again. they're awesome. they put on consistently great events, which gather some of my favorite people in the whole wide world. the friendships and memories we make are lasting and profound. i am so grateful for all y'all. 

let's do this again, soon.

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