Each one is different and yet the same--no matter how frequent or infrequent the “get-aways.” Her last thought before she starts a race is “why am I doing this?” (It always starts with why to power up her happy). Her first thought after finishing a race is “When can I do it again?” (A restless soul searching for essentialism—the disciplined pursuit of less by doing more). When she tightens her ponytail or puts on her running hat, you know it’s about to go down. She needs her alone time and space. She runs epically, reaching, owning it. Afterwards, I feel the need to send condolences for the loss of her toenails.
These people—you, who call yourselves ultra-runners—are simultaneously blessed and cursed. You understand what it is to embrace, live and manifest the YOLO mentality of the 21st century—it is what we ALL crave—to “regret proof ” this life—at one level or another, through the pursuit of our passions of choice. You have found a tribe of like- minded individuals who “get” you and themselves—words need not be spoken, merely one’s presence at a race is proof enough. These people know the secret of life. But, then again, the same can be said for anyone who finds a passion and pursues it with every fiber of their being.
I have learned that the spouses/partners/roommates/significants/friends of such people had better “get it” or be left behind in the dust as quick as you can say “fartleck” To love, honor, cherish and hold (say it with me, people, for faster or slower, PR or DNF and lactic acid build-up). From the outside, looking in, the basics of an ultra-marathon are as follows: left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot…. repeat for 3 to 72 hours. Maddening to us mere mortals. But this is a sport born from the inside looking out. As Bruce Cockburn said, …” you’ve got to kick at the darkness til it bleeds daylight…” The epic quest for that ONE THING when breath becomes air and our selves go from good to great. Love, honor, cherish and hold. Support and feed. At all costs. So, while it doesn’t make for good television, it certainly makes for great Hollywood. The big reason—present over perfect. Get it?
I who “support” an ultra-runner question daily if I “feed” her. Tapering has brought an excuse for every one of her irrational thoughts and actions. Including the building of amazing home improvement projects that would bring Tim the Tool-man to his knees with envy and shame. A clean house and organized life is a sign that she is injured or not feeling well. Nocturnal marathons are won and lost on a nightly basis in our house. With all due respect, if you’re not a distance runner, your definition of tired is discredited. “I am tired, I think I’ll go for a run”, is indeed, her runner’s logic. “You are crazy” is her favorite compliment that takes on more significance when uttered from another runner. She becomes a mathematical wizard whilst running but doesn’t “sweat the small stuff” off the course.
For, you see, she is at once stubborn, resourceful and self-sufficient (a byproduct of the sport she loves, breathes and needs) and, at times, in need of a “caregiver”—someone who can “crew” her life and her races. On my part, this takes a balance between anticipating needs, wants, cravings, and wishes, while at the same time not doing TOO much as to upset the equilibrium between thoughtful and enabling—this would call into doubt the self-sufficiency that is a harbinger of her “journey”. Balance between being sweet and annoyingly nice.
It’s hard to think of a better feeling than completing a distance you have never gone before. And so, at the “Across the Years” ultra-marathon in Phoenix Arizona, with “Crocodile Rock” blasting from the speakers, Eva floated effortlessly across the finish line under an afternoon desert sky after the completion of 151 miles—her PR.
“The heart is a bloom, shoots up through the stony ground”…a desert rose was born. Present over perfect.