“The Marathon des Sables is animalian and primal and like a tattoo for your soul and a way to stay grounded to this life and a church and the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in my 33 years on this massive blue-and-green planet.” –Meghan Hicks, 2012*
It’s been 3 ½ months since I got home from Morocco. Still healing up a bit, sorting through what’s different and what the trajectory looks like from here. Because it’s wildly different than the one I had when I left.
Recovery: I felt decent after 2 weeks (though still hungry!) and pretty darn good after 4. Got back to running & completed a for-fun 10K trail race — and watched my ankle swell up like a puffball.
Dayam! — it seems that tendons & ligaments are slowest to heal.
Took it easy with mileage, very easy with terrain, and added 3X a week swim workouts. As South Texas has been hitting 100 degrees for most days! the swim workouts have been a welcome break + helped to build upper body strength. Win.
The other part that’s more difficult to describe but much more pronounced: I’m a different person than I was before the race — & it’s more than just the new tattoo.
I’m less afraid of, well… everything. Heights, whether I’m meeting someone’s “approval”, hell whether I’m meeting *anyone’s* approval but my own. Running 155 miles in harsh conditions for a week while living out of a backpack is surely part of it, but so is seeing the moon come up over the sand dunes 18 hours into the long stage — and feeling my molecules get rearranged — because holy hell that is a magical place.
Friendships have changed, too with some firm boundaries, a letting go of a lot of negative crap & focusing on what’s good & huge & possible. A bunch of hard work toward building a life I actually want to live.
I raced a lot in the 18 months leading up to MdS – back-to-back Ironman races, New Year’s Double 50ks, Lighthouse 50K, Rocky 50-mile, Prairie Spirit 100, Palo Duro 50, Woodlands Marathon, Cowtown 50K, Comrades Ultra in South Africa. Whew! I have less planned for this race season, although schedule is still a work in progress: 100K in August, Javelina 100-miler in October, & New Year’s Double 50ks (huge favorite) at year end.
And oh yeah! Fire and Ice — a 250k stage race in Iceland next August. Similar format to MdS, but with glaciers, new volcanic landscape, steam vents & hot pools – “passing through landscapes only seen in science fiction films”.
*Meghan is a past winner of MdS (2013) and one of the most gracious athletes I’ve been privileged to meet. She was racing again this year (her 5th MdS!) finishing in top 5 — & always took the time to cheer, offer tips & encouragement to other racers. Really, a class act.