Not everything (actually very little. OK, almost nothing) about this last year went as I had expected. And it was fabulous. And really hard.
I set two new PRs! One at 50K, another at 50 miles (no small thing @ 58, eh?)
Trained my brains out, logged a ton of miles (2200 running, 60 miles o’ swim). Smooched a lot of dogs.
Returned to Iceland for 125K of self-supported racing – different course, different part of the country than 2016 race — but equally gorgeous. Spectacular fields of mossy glowing (hella sharp!) lava rocks (& new scar to prove it). Mild hypothermia. Puffins and bagpipes & hot springs. Deep magic. Old & new friends.
Showed up for 5K swim race in Chicago – canceled! with 1200 of us at start line on the beach. (Riptides plus 7-foot breakers – absolutely the right call.) The good news? met group of very cool, very accomplished athletes (new friends!) & made a plan to meet back up for 2019 event. Reconnected with a high school (!) friend which was/is lovely in a way only someone who knows you from forever ago can be.
Ran another beach marathon – hot! hot! hot! & sandy, with 17 lb. pack for stage race training. (No PR for that one!)
And left for Namibia – 250K of self-supported racing across the desert, an experience I can still feel sinking into my bones. Absolutely the most difficult race — conditions, terrain, mileage – that I have ever done. 130+ degree days, deep sand, sharp rocks, dehydration, unrelenting wind. And also? elephants, a bunch of (incredibly kind generous funny!) runners, huge skies & rivers of pink quartz spilling across the trail, top-notch race organization. Spent a great deal of time at the edge of oh-fuck-I-really-am-going-to-die — and felt that ancient desert change me in profound and unexpected ways.
And that’s it for me, really. That hanging out on the very edge of who I am & what I’m capable of and letting it change me. It’s where I find peace, grace – and if I’m very very lucky, a bit transcendence.
What’s Next: I’ve built this year’s race schedule with the same idea. New places, new adventures, hella hard! in a way that makes me both terrified and thrilled, so I guess that is about right. (Holy hell, I’ll be 59 years old! which is weirdly surprising, even to me.)
- 100K trail run @ Brazos State Park – a birthday tradition! run with the gators. This is one of my favorite races – great course, fabulous race organization. Taking advantage of newly-added option of 100K distance.
- 50-mile @ the Salt Flats in Utah – this race has been on my “list” for years (photos look like moonscape!)
- Big Shoulders 5K swim – they wouldn’t cancel 2 years in a row, right? Right?!
- For Rangers Ultra, Kenya – 230 km self-supported race through 6 wildlife conservancies. SO excited to be selected for this race. (If this video doesn’t make your hair stand up – in a good way — we probably aren’t friends.)
- BTU Desert Ultra, Namibia – 250 km self-supported race @ Namibian desert. (Yes, I’m going back. Yes, it is stupid-hard-almost-killed-me. And fabulous. And magical.)
I love this quote from Elizabeth Gilbert, describing a friend’s work as his ‘devotional practice’. It’s not exactly where I am, but it’s very very close.
“… he became a poet the way other men become monks: as a devotional practice, as an act of love, and as a lifelong commitment to the search for grace and transcendence.” — Elizabeth Gilbert, “Big Magic”