"But you, by the grace of an ordeal in the night which stripped you of all that was not intrinsic, you discovered a mysterious creature born of yourself. Great was this creature, and never shall you forget him."
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "Wind, Sand, and Stars"
I've been tagging many of my emails with this quote for almost a year now I think. I think it may hold more of a prophecy in it than I would have thought a year ago. When I first read it on the AdventureCorps website (adventurecorpsblog.blogspot.com) from Chris Kostman (Badwater race director), I imagined me running in the dark during my 100 mile race and feeling euphoric, like running on clouds. Now though I can't honestly say what I expect to happen in fourteen days.
In 2005 I decided to do Ultraman Canada in '06. It was a combination of the allure of the distance and the mystery of a three day event. At that time I was looking beyond the marathon and Ironman distances and felt that I wanted to do a race where I "didn't know if I could finish or not", probably relying on some well of energy and drive stored deep down inside to get me through. When at last day one of UM came I was so prepared that there was no thoughts of not finishing. I had moved from the frail, self-doubt to strong confidence that I could do well at this race. The double marathon on the third day being the icing on the cake as my running was going quite well at the time. Like pretty much every race I'd done in the past I knew what I wanted my times to be and in training when it got tough on the run, I imagined myself, over and over again, digging deep and breaking the day three run record.
With my upcoming adventure, I now truly know where I was in my head the year before Ultraman. I don't have even the faintest idea if I'll finish the Bighorn. Carrie is saying "why do it then" and my answer again is that everything is booked, Tracey and Tom are meeting me to crew and I feel I need to experience things during that long of an event, for better or for worse. I can't help imagining that this first 100 miler I do (and hopefully not the last) is scarily like my first-ever Olympic triathlon. In that one I felt woefully underprepared, inexperienced, and, indeed, freaked out of my mind. I remember standing in transition on that wet, dreary day wondering if I should wear my arm warmers or a jacket and actually taking a few minutes to get dressed. Oh, how I've learned a ton since then. I know I'll make a ton of mistakes over the 20 -30 hours I'm out there, and my ultimate goal is to truly finish. I've said that in the past about races but this one is most definitely going to be joyful just to cross the line. Not to make excuses but here are a few things that will be new to me:
heat - having had months and months of little to no steady sunshine, I may wilt in the first eight or nine hours until the
sun goes down
altitude - starting at around 4,000ft and rising to almost 9,000 at the turn-around I may be coughing up valuable red
distance - not doing more than a 34 mile run in six weeks so far does not do anything to boost my confidence that I can
actually move myself that far for that long
darkness - I've never run more than an hour in the dark. That will change when I go out this coming week for hopefully a
three hour run or so through Chuckanut
blisters - most of the hot spots or blisters I've ever had have been manageable and I've been able to suffer through them to
the finish. If they get ugly early on, I don't know what works best for me, but I'll take a bunch of crap to try.
nutrition - the longest run I've ever done is 8:19 and near the end I didn't want to eat a thing, my stomach telling me so. In
this one because I'm moving slower I hope to be able to handle more calories a bit easier.
time - I haven't been on my feet for more than 8:19 and predicting 24+ hours should be interesting
What I have going for me is:
I know that's a short list but I think when it comes down to it, that may be all that's left when I'm "stripped of all that is not intrinsic.
I need to do this race to know what I'll need to do to get through Spartathlon in September in terms of nutrition, running in the dark, time, and blisters. That's the bottom line.
Another quote I stumbled upon today was appropriate as well:
"Turtles have taught me this: Do all you can and don't worry about the odds against you. Wield the miracle of life's energy, concerned only that whether we fail or succeed we do so with all our might. That's all we need to know to make our efforts worth our while on Earth."
- Carl Safina, Voyage of the Turtle