I’m Not Alone!

5 Sep

At one o’clock in the morning last night I was still screeching out the high notes of Katy Perry’s “Firework” when we pulled in the driveway. I must once again apologize to my wife for that. At least we didn’t go in the ditch. My wife might have been close to jumping for it though by the end of the 1.5 hour drive back from the wedding we photographed. In the conversation that preceded karaoke magic one realization stood out: “I have to run today.”

By “today” I meant 6am. 5 hours away. It was a well-laid trap. I HAD to go. The me of yesterday had out-foxed the me of today. These two know each other well. I can’t tell you if they are arch enemies with a latent element of profound respect for each other, or the best of friends that survive endless bouts of hostility in order to work for the greater good. The me of today is a slob, but he doesn’t want to stay that way. So he plots. He schemes.

He knows he won’t want to go running the day after photographing a wedding. He knows from years of not-running that if it doesn’t happen in the morning, it won’t happen. So when he gets a random, midweek email from a Run Away Shoes announcing a group run 45 minutes away, he responds on their Facebook page saying that he’ll be there. But he knows the sloth of the me of tomorrow is so great that a Facebook commitment is not good enough. So he calls the owner of the shoe store to buy a desperately needed pair of shoes and arranges to have them delivered at the group run. In the process he convinces the owner of the shop to attend the run.

Well Played Sir

It was a well woven web of peer pressure, new shoes, and new trails that got me up with my alarm at 6am. It was my wife that woke me up at 6:02 after I’d fallen back on my pillow like a punch drunk boxer. After that I jumped up, which I’ve found is really the only way to do it. I’ve not yet fallen asleep mid-air.

I’d laid out my gear before going to bed (again yesterday’s me’s idea) and yet it still took me all of the hour that yesterday’s me allotted to get ready. I have no hair. I didn’t shower or brush my teeth. I did eat a generous breakfast, but no, most of that time was spent staring at the bottom of a mug, wondering where my coffee went. I knew this would happen. Or, I did yesterday, rather.

New Friends

I love getting together with friends in the morning. It’s my favorite time of day. Alas though I’m finding that morning people are in a much maligned minority. So if you’re one of the awesome new people I met on the High Cliff State Park run I beg your forgiveness if I seemed a little chatty and overeager. You fit into two categories that are rare, morning people AND ultra runners!

Yes, they are out there! I’m not alone in the world after all. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I’ve been putting in some big runs by my lonesome. Runs in the 6-8 hour range. I’ve never felt lonely running before, but that’s a lot of time to myself. Apparently even I get sick of myself at some point!

Real Live Ultra Runners!

They exist in realms beyond the internet and email apparently. On the run yesterday I met four more participants in the Fall 50 run! What an unexpected treat! Two of them were even Leadville 100 finishers. There is a part of me that wants to run Leadville one day. There’s another part of me that never wants to run again after the Fall 50! That part of me took a serious blow when I ran with other ultra runners yesterday.

Understanding

When I tell people (and I try not to) that I’m running an ultra marathon I get a few standard responses. One is awe. They think I’m super human. Another is concern. “Is it healthy?” My mother fits into this category. She has told my wife to discourage ultra running… or at least to not encourage. The last category is the worst: people are dumbstruck by the though of an ultra and the conversation simply vanishes in a fog of disconnect. It’s like I suddenly donned a cloak of invisibility and don’t exist to them anymore.

None of these reactions is very pleasant to me. Okay, I like the awe category as long as they don’t start comparing their own valiant running efforts to mine. I HATE and fear discouraging anyone.

I didn’t have to fear anything yesterday. These people spoke my language. Maybe that’s the disconnect that had formed between myself and other runners. Ultra running is a whole different beast and let me be clear on this, it isn’t a better beast, just different. We have a whole different set of problems and logistics to overcome. When you delve into any hobby deep enough your language really does change. The jargon is assimilated with your knowing. That explains the dumbfounded reaction. They react to me like they might coming up against a language barrier. No hablo ultra runner-umm…o.

A Run Amongst Friends

I don’t know my new ultra running friends very well, but we share something in common that we spend hours each week doing and that’s enough for me. It’s made the slightly unsettling and unnerving starting line of the Fall 50 seem much more inviting and welcoming. It is a run amongst friends with a common goal. It’s just the boost I needed at a difficult point in my training.

So I woke up for a pair of shoes and got so much more than that. I love how life works sometimes. Setting foot out the door on a new adventure is always the most difficult step (especially after 3.5 hours of sleep), but I’m finding it to be worth it. I’m gonna listen to the me of yesterday more often. He’s a wise man… even if I do hate him in the morning.

3 Responses to “I’m Not Alone!”

  1. Emily September 21, 2012 at 1:25 am #

    There is definitely something that bonds runners regardless of distance. I would love to join you for an or so of one of your runs – and I promise I won’t be anything short of awe-ful ;) .

    • Brandon September 24, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

      I think with running you either “get it” or you don’t. There’s a certain “runner affinity” that exists between those of us that get it. I think generally runners are good people. Maybe it’s because we have good mental health from all our therapy time!

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