I have been intentionally quiet for the last couple of months because sometimes you just need to lower your head and get shit done. It seems that the spring is always a bit chaotic, which may be because I am an educator, but probably has more to do with the fact that we always seem to be making some major life change. This year it was another move that came right in the midst of what should have been a dedicated training block. The move meant that I had to become a power lifter over night and manage the emotional toll moving can have on a family of five. Living in between two houses for a few weeks spending endless hours scrubbing baseboards and shower doors does not make for an ideal training environment. However, I made the most of what I had and managed to get in a few hours each weekend working on my weaknesses and using each minute as a reprieve from the stress of life.
When I registered for the Bighorn 100 in January I had a vision of long training days in the mountains filled with epic ascents and tired legs. Ha, well mother nature had another plan and I didn’t see the trails until a few weeks before the race. Leading up to the spring I embraced a cold, long winter that left me alone many mornings braving the conditions. I know that those challenging mornings built the strength and resolve that I would need on an all day journey.
The week before the race I finished out the school year, did last minute cleaning on our rental and traveled to and from MI for a wedding all while experiencing excruciating back and neck pain. In the back of my mind doubt crept in as I compared my training to those of others and reflected on two previous DNF’s at the distance. I also hadn’t raced since September and felt like I had more than a few cobwebs in my legs. However, I kept reminding myself that my only goal was to finish and that it was going to be a silent grind most of the way, much like my training. I also thought about the loss of Gabe Grunewald and the tremendous impact that she had on so many of us around the world. I found myself mourning the loss of someone who I had never met, but looked up to as a light of positivity. She wasn’t given a lot of choice in the last ten years of her life, yet she showed up everyday fighting to live while running with an infectious smile. I had the choice to run Bighorn, which I could now see as a gift and I owed it to those out on the course to wear the same smile that Gabe did.
The day before the race came with some stress, nerves and fatigue that was exasperated by my seasonal allergies. I am a very early morning person but found myself relieved to have a 9am start and to see some familiar faces loading the busses. The first 30 or so miles went so quickly and I owe that to meeting a new friend, Khris, at mile 8. We ended up running the entire race together after meeting assuring that we both got that buckle at the end. This was special to me because in addition to wanting to finish, I also wanted to connect more with a community that fills me heart and spirit up. I could go into many details about this race, especially since it took me a little over 29 hrs to finish, but my biggest takeaway is gratitude. I appreciated every minute of this race and was almost saddened to see the finish line. I didn’t experience the expected silent grind (Khris is quite the talker!), as the course was filled with both natural sound and the voices of an endearing community.
I have learned so much about myself and life in the last couple of months as I have spent more time being present and less time worrying about things that do not matter. I am not sure if I will ever train optimally for a race or if life will ever become simpler, but I do know that I will never take for granted the start of a new day and the choice to keep on running.