Sunday, January 29, 2017

Spousal Support: A few words from guest blogger Mark Basehart

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.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Dear Mother Nature

Dear Mother Nature,

I'm done apologizing to you.  I have tried to make amends and to appease your whims.  But, enough is enough.

You've thrown wind, rain, hail, ice, mud, blizzards, humidity, blistering temps, and more at me.  I've taken it all.

Sometimes, it has defeated me, and I've had to seek shelter.   Those times hurt the most.  Other times, I've found a way to persevere and push on.  All while you feign innocence by surrounding the days preceding and following my races with fair temps and boring forecasts.  You seem to relish in hurting me.

No more.

I am hear to fight.

Yeah, yeah, I know this will annoy you, and I'll have to bear the repercussions.   I've already seen the forecast for this weekend:  up to 10 inches of snow, accumulating ice, and wind gusts up to 35 mph.

You're getting predictable.

You see, I'm on a quest for my final Beast Double Buckle, and I'm not letting you get in my way of getting that job done.

So, go ahead, Mother Nature.  Do your thing.  I'm ready, and, I'll Run Through It.



Monday, January 16, 2017

Rest: Phunt 50K

“I need to process this.”   That’s my standard line, when I don’t want to respond emotionally.   When, I’m tired.

This past week, the alarm would go off, and rather than play that snooze-alarm math, that both lets me sleep until the last possible moment, AND get ready without looking like my morning is happening at light speed, I simply rolled over.   I overslept for work THREE times this past week.  This is NOT like me.

I inherited my disposition to keep busy from my mom.  “NEVER sit before noon” is her mantra.  Even at 82.  Even when her daughter tells her to wait for her to arrange plowing vs. shoveling her monster driveway.  “I’ll rest after, Eva” she says.  “It’s better that way”.

If you cared to look, on any given day, you would see two emails that I send to myself every morning.  One is a very specific daily delineation of what I want to accomplish and the other is my weekly “Tetris” chart.  The latter, though less detailed, contains enough info that I can keep multiple plates spinning at the same time. This past week, I found myself simply changing the date on my to-do lists.   ‘I’ll get to that tomorrow’, I reasoned.

At the end of the week, the to-do list didn’t have the check marks I had intended.

I thought about calling in to work—just to catch up on sleep, and put a dent in the to-do's.  But, it is the end of the semester, and I have donated every plan and lunch period to working with kids.  Taking a day off will just make me busier when I return. 

The reality of racing this weekend filled me with dread.  “How am I going to stay awake for this car ride?”  “I don’t know if my legs can handle the trails”.  “Snow in the forecast!”  “I need to process this”.

I.  Was.  Tired. 

Fast forward to the starting line of the Phunt 50k.   This is a two-lap course, which prides itself on giving the runners a choice of completing one loop (25k—half crazy, according to the organizers), or two loops (full crazy).   Same medal.   They make it VERY difficult to go on, with the implication that if you are tired…it’s okay to stop.

That’s a dirty trick.

I know the lure of stopping; I’ve seen others rationalize it many times.  Rog and I will ask each other the same question when the pull to stop is strong:  “How will you feel about this tomorrow?”

‘Ok, girl…you want to process, now is the time” I said to myself at the starting line.  I took ten seconds.  TEN SECONDS.   I looked around, at the trails, the sun, at myself.   "You can do this.  Go find your happy."

And, I did.   I ran through mud, and sleet, and hail and snow; through a beautiful forest with unexpected covered bridges; over streams and rocks and roots.  I freed my mind, and let my body do what it loves.

I hit obstacles—mostly emotional.   But, I decided to handle them in the same way:  I would process.   I would think about how I would feel tomorrow, if I made a rash emotional response.   I would look around and see how lucky I am.  I would count and hold dear, my many blessings.  I learned, during this race, what is closest to my heart, and what I can, and more importantly, cannot let go of.

I did finish, and I did do two laps.  As I sat shivering in my car after the race, clutching my finisher medal, I thought about driving home.   I sat and processed the thought for a few minutes, asking, “How will I feel about this tomorrow?”.  Finally, I decided to check into a hotel room.  Mom was right; the rest is better that way.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7