Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lunar Trek - An Ultra Dark Night

Here I am in Scandia High School before the start of the race.

How could a dirt road in northern Kansas be so tough? The Lunar Trek kicked my butt. 50K done in 7h14. A night of sweat and bugs and footing that was just a tad difficult or a tad up or down.

Mostly it was a night. It was the type of thing I yearn for as an ultra-marathoner and contemplative: a dark night of the soul. The type of night where crap is about all you can think of to say.
On a dark road in Kansas, I got to find out how to be frustrated and patient, to keep going even though it hurts. I got to find out what I am made of, nothing really. I ran on through 7 hours of Kansas night, basically alone. For 4 hours, I breezed along. Its not like I suddenly hit a wall, but the last ten miles were hang in there time.
A 50k should be easy, right? Its only 50k. Its not on technical trails. Its not on mountains. I don't even have any blisters. It shouldn't of kicked my butt but it did. Little miss work-out queen, I can run forever everyday, had to work for this one.
After 4h30, passing the 20 mile aid station, I went on into the night. 30 minutes later, I knew I hurt and I wondered why I was doing this. Most of all, I thought if it didn't get light soon, I'd die. I'd wanted it to be light for two hours at least. Maybe most of my energy went into struggling with the dark, or wishing it wasn't dark, or just fumbling forward in the dark. I lived in a narrow petzyl world, able only to see that small circle of illumination in front of me.
In the dark night of the soul, the place I like to get to in ultra-marathoning, I reach the end of my human resources. I can't get to this place, so far at least, without being in a race. At home in the park, I just make a rational decision to stop because I've had enough for the day. In the middle of a dark night in Kansas, the only option is to go on.
As I approached the aid station which was about 25 min from the end, I teared up I was so happy to see it. A man there wore a t-shirt which said, "Recovery is an inside job." I knew what he was from his shirt. I told him I had 25 years. He related.
Finishing dark nights is an inside job. Going through a dark night is what recovery is all about. Egos have no authority in the dark night. Inside jobs are usually messy, but they leave you with joy. When I finally did get to the finish, I teared up again, so happy I finished. I'm an old fart. I run slow. I finish. The race director checked his list. "Oh," he said, "you get to pick one of these." He pointed to several beautiful slices of tree branch which had been lacquered and labeled, "1st Place." I was over whelmed to get a beautiful piece of wood.
Haha, I was the only one in my age group. I won!
(Contemplate that!)


Derrick said...

Wow. Great race and report. Sounded like a tough one to get through. Enjoyed reading your thoughts and feelings along the way.

Gosh I miss racing. Soon.

West Grey Runner said...

Great report Spirit Flower, I have really enjoyed following your Blog. There was a bunch of us folks that had a similar experience at the Limber Lost Challenge last week. Many were asking just how could it be that hard!!!!!

It would be really nice if you posted this report on RM.


Spirit Flower said...

WG, I did post it on RM, just not the picture.

Thanks guys for your comments.

Gary said...

Writing's an inside job, too. Thanks for sharing your perspective on the dark night on a Kansas Road. And way to hang in there, Spirit Flower!