196 Days and Counting…

victory

196 Days and Counting

by Patrick Reed

Today, July 15th, 2013, marks the running of the Badwater 135 Ultramarathon. It also marks day 196 of this year’s running streak for me and others who have bitten off the challenge to run every day of 2013. I want to write about just another day in the streak because I find it true that every day is both “just another day” and supremely important. Indeed, in rethinking this, I will have to propose that there really is no such thing as “just another day” for the dedicated runner.

“Today, July 15th, 2013, marks the running of the¬†Badwater 135 Ultramarathon.”

This afternoon, as I laced up to head into the mountains just across the lake outside my back door, I sighed just a tinge with fatigue. I wondered if Dr. Maffetone might clearly see, looking into my eyes, the second signs of over-training. Or, on the contrary, might he assuage my concerns with a pat on the back and a plug to keep over-reaching…?

Last night, on day 195 – a number I was far from aware of until moments ago when I fired up the Calculator App on my iPhone and followed the months of the calendar to that sum – I slipped into my Luna Leadville sandals. I was headed out¬†for my trusty 3.4 mile road course, my late-night fall-back run for the days when my running task has been left for last in the fallout of the day’s priorities. My old achilles injury had been nagging me for the last 2 days. Just a simple presence, and minor reminder of my mortality and fallenness. As if I needed reminding that I am not invincible. I emitted a prayer for strength in those sinews for the run and was grateful when, upon the first gentle strides on my featherlight sandals, my achilles held without a sign of any pained weakness. Gliding through the night, on asphalt, then sidewalk to avert the steerings of a carousing car, the cool air found its way beneath my Brooks sweatshirt’s collar as my long Adidas sweatpants tickled the tops of my exposed feet. Just another blissful run!

“I stepped onto the trail. It was like stepping into the water at the ocean’s edge. The soft dirt and leaves gave natural cushion to my tired legs and spirit.”

And so this afternoon, dancing my first footfalls, the 1200 foot mountain ascent in my imagination, I wondered how I might fare. After a half mile of road, the same which marked the start of last night’s run, I stepped onto the trail. It was like stepping into the water at the ocean’s edge. The soft dirt and leaves gave natural cushion to my tired legs and spirit. I dropped down from the solid road and then up towards my favorite mountains.

The climb on top of the mountains which stand before my real ascent came more easily than I had feared. I took it easy, carefully choosing my foot placements. I imagined running 50 or 100 miles on these trails, and looked for the easiest way up, the most efficient pace, the way to go and go and go. The way to endure.

“It seemed impossible that only 350 miles east of me, these valiant – and lunatic?! – endurance runners were only a fraction of the way into their ever more challenging course. I wondered how it went, in that parallel sphere, how the miles were accumulating — and how the runners’ attitudes and optimism fared.”

The thought of the 96 Badwater runners who had toed the line at 6, 8, and 10 a.m. – in staggered starts in over-daunting heat – strengthened my resolve. It seemed impossible that only 350 miles east of me, these valiant – and lunatic?! – endurance runners were only a fraction of the way into their ever more challenging course. I wondered how it went, in that parallel sphere, how the miles were accumulating — and how the runners’ attitudes and optimism fared.

70 minutes after I started from my house I was stepping off of the trail and back into the “real world” with all of its anxieties and problems. I stepped out of that euphoric ocean which connects me daily to those Badwater participants. Those runners who still must endure some 20 plus more hours of discipline and heat and hell and bliss on this day…

“Just another day?! Not for the runner. For us, every day is a part of our own personal Badwater…”

Just another day?! Not for the runner. For us, every day is a part of our own personal Badwater — with all of the despair of inevitable loss and with all of the exhilaration of being what we are truly meant to be.

Glory in each new day!

~Patrick

image credit: vestibular.org

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