|Making my way back to my hotel room after completing the Oil Creek 100 in 2009.|
I had an amazing run this morning. It was one of those runs when everything just feels right and I remember why I love to move my feet. It came at just the right time as I am now tapering for the Oil Creek 100. I can't believe it's 10 days away. Last weekend I ran the Virgil Crest 50 Mile Ultra (51.4 to be exact) as my last long run and man that run kicked my ass. It was one of the toughest runs I have ever done. My hats off to those brave souls who completed the 100. One section of the course was straight up a black diamond ski slope with a 14% incline. Having to face this ski slope section twice during the 50 mile was tough. Having to face it four times during the 100 is a real test of courage. Never mind the fact that one of the hardest sections of the course is right after it. There was 10,000 feet of climb during the Virgil Crest 50 Mile and I felt like all day for 16 hours I was going up. One of the hardest parts of the race was the incredible inclines. Some sections had ropes to help pull you up. If you are looking for a technical and challenging but incredibly beautiful ultra with awesome aid stations, volunteers and a great race director put Virgil Crest on your list. I'm sure I will be back to run it but it's also on my bucket list of races to photograph due to how beautiful the course is. I will have great memories of running with 1st time 50 Mile finisher Jim Porter. We motivated each other and kept each other company. Jim felt amazing the whole race while having to listen to me bitch about blisters that arrived at mile five and got worse with each passing mile. Hydropel on feet before putting on Drymax socks? Nope. Not for me. Lesson learned the painful way. Blisters are my major concern right now going into Oil Creek and this week alone I returned three pairs of new running shoes and bought 10 new pairs of socks. It's been hard to think about anything but Oil Creek. It seems to be the first thing on my mind in the morning and must be at night since my dreams are filled with the trails or visions of me frantically running to the starting line because my alarm didn't go off and realizing in my panic that I forgot my running shorts.
It is going to be very strange going back to Oil Creek. I have done plenty of ultras since but every step of training and running Oil Creek was like chasing a dream. Finishing your first 100 miler is simply unreal. I do not know if it can ever be explained. This will be my first time revisiting a 100 mile ultra and that thought scares the crap out of me. The first time, I knew without a shadow of a doubt I was running 100 miles. I just did not know that it would be with enough time to earn the buckle I see on my wall now. I am always chasing the cut off times. Speed has never been my friend. Signing up for Oil Creek again was a difficult decision. My inability to lose weight was almost a show stopper because I had dreams of doing this ultra and actually feeling like a runner. I'm back to reality and moving forward relentlessly with the hopes of being a finisher. In many ways, I am scared to death of losing my memories from the first experience. To be perfectly honest, I am also afraid of it not being special. Of it being, well different, and just not the same as I remember. I guess no race or experience ever is.
I remember how I felt at Virgil Crest. I viewed the race as my last long run and when I described what it was like to my wife I said it was like "work". I was simply getting it done so I can earn the buckle again at Oil Creek and hopefully have some fun and memories while doing so. I went into Virgil Crest with very tired legs from a 40 mile run the weekend before. I felt heavy and tired. But for about 15 minutes at Virgil Crest it was so much more than that. For 15 minutes during that race I ran with tears in my eyes and the feeling in my heart that I was doing exactly what I was born to do. I was running surrounded by beauty all around me and I felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be at that moment. I rounded a corner and saw my wife and my daughter in the distance and the beautiful fall leaves with the wonderful cool air filling my lungs and in that moment I felt amazingly alive. I felt like God was smiling. I felt free. I felt blessed to be there. I felt completely synchronized with everything around me and blissfully happy. It was BEAUTIFUL. Those moments now are fewer and fewer and some runs don't have that feeling at all. There was a time I felt that way stepping out my door for a run. . That's how I felt training for Oil Creek and Brazil 135. That's how I felt running those races. Since then it hasn't been all mountain tops. It's been a lot of lonely long runs where I would hope for five or ten minutes of what I described. I had 15 minutes of that at Virgil Crest. The reality is if I can have one minute of that feeling at Oil Creek I would run the race backwards. Some people ask me how I can run all day alone sometimes for ten or twelve hours and that feeling is why. It's always out there and sometimes more than once. Sometimes it stays for hours. But it's a feeling that must be found and it's harder and harder to come by. It's a feeling that can not be described. The best I can do is to say there are moments when I run that I feel connected to God and without a shadow of a doubt I know He is real. There are moments when I know He turns his head toward me and smiles. Sometimes I feel if I run deep enough inside myself I will feel God stand up because He is so moved by our moments together. That's when I will start to fly.
Thanks for stopping by.