Okay, I'll elaborate.
I've had a few events in my life that I'd consider "breakthroughs." My first triathlon, first ultramarathon, finishing a half Ironman, graduating college, winning a couple ultras. These have always felt like things that have come naturally, sort of a "what the hell else was I supposed to do?" attitude. I did them because I was just being me, and enjoying my life. Perhaps it's the hype of such events and milestones that have me perplexed. I read about people crossing finish lines, being handed diplomas, or getting certificates and being reborn. When I start an endeavor, I can't help but wonder if this is the time that I "get it" and emerge as a different, more enlightened being.
If it was going to happen, it would happen at a 100miler, the Grand Poobah of supposedly-cathartic, athletically-based life changers. Though I had a great time, became humbled, and a couple half-naked girls in the woods, I'm still me. I'm still a rather underemployed, commitment-phobic, confused and lost soul who's hanging on by a thread. Now I just have a sweet ass belt buckle. Ironically, I had bad ass belt buckles before doing ultras. Turns out, you can just buy them on ebay, in tourist traps, and in tractor shops.
This skepticism may sound odd when compared to my last post, the race report from Tahoe. I'm not saying that it wasn't one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life, I'm just saying that running is a great addition to a life. It's not a replacement for one. I'm no better a person than my friends who have finished their master's projects, gotten that big grant for their project, or made a home-brewed beer that doesn't taste like ass.
My appetite, legs, and head seem to have stabilized. So much so, in fact, that I ran 40ish miles on the Grand Mesa 100 course with Jason and Shelly last weekend. I signed up for the race half-assedly several months ago for reasons unknown. In spite of still having a hacking cough, I wanted to enjoy a nice run in some new territory. I took the "speed hiking" approach- utilizing my Camelbak, trekking poles and Sportiva Crosslite 2.0s(too much shoe, must test limits of running store's return policy). You'd think that all the long and slow action of the previous weekend would have soured me on being outdoors in the elements for extended periods, but I just wanted more. This opportunity provided some more long run training for upcoming adventures, and a chance to see a great course with "the usual suspects" in most things ridiculous. Even though we were constantly clamoring and goofing off, it allowed me to reflect on why exactly I do what I do. I was an official entrant in this race, and added yet another DNF to an already rotting running resume. Aren't I trying to make something out of myself? Shouldn't it bother me to think about someone looking me up on Athlinks or Ultrasignup and seeing that I've got only a smattering of good performances to my name(damn, some of those were two years ago)? Not really. To use the words that Michael Jordan used, but not in this particular order, "You don't become an elite by giving a shit what haters think."(citation needed).
To summarize: Rest assured, I'm still a spastic mess, and no amount of traumatizing races will put a dent in it.
Here's some pictures.
|4 hours from Boulder, Grand Mesa is what I imagined Colorado to be before arriving|
|Since I actually enjoyed my arduous 28 hour hundo, I think there might be longer, slower, gnarlier speedhikes in my future.|
|Sometimes I get the itch to compete, others, I'd be a fool not to slow down and look.|
Burnout, Poser, call me what you will. Maybe I'm nothing more than a hiker with too little patience to walk.
Oh, and it looks like I might be doing Leadville by some sort of strange happenstance.