Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Holy Road - Ultracentric Report

Is it this?

Or this?

I've done both. The first one is of the chapel at The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. A place where I spent several years. The second is the road at Ultracentric. Ultracentric is an ultra-marathon. this road is part of a 2 mile loop.

I'm not sure there is a difference between a nun and an ultra-runner. None is more special to God; as God gives salvation to all.

I just spent 15 hours and 54 miles on the Ultracentric road. I met several people. Many of the people are retired, but able to walk all day for several days. One gal had a broken arm but walked like crazy. One man had osteoporosis, but 50 years ago, he was an Olympic cyclist. Some were great runners who did run most of the time.

The park was near Dallas Fort Worth airport. As I watched the planes all day, it occurred to me that I was totally glad to not be waiting around there for a frigging airplane. But I also realized that I got the "no place like home" feeling whenever I came in for a late night landing from a business trip.

They had a wonderful tent kitchen on course making food for the racers. But it was meat centered. So no lunch for me. I realized that I am so outside the pale as a vegetarian and that I don't lead a food centered life any more. I'd gone through this same awkwardness at work on Friday as the department had lunch together; but I refused to eat the oil soaked pasta and ate my home-made salad. This not-part-of-the-society life is a friction. But I felt a new courage to be me. The non-food-centered life is part of my monastic legacy; or maybe just an ongoing loathing to sit and eat with people.

I did real well with my 4 mph pacing up through 32 miles, but then lost time as the temperatures fell, I put on more clothes and stopped jogging and only walked. I had said my goal was 100 miles so I was being conservative on speed. I was determined to keep walking no matter what.

After 13.5 hours, I looked at my counter and saw that I had been 50 miles. It was dark and cold, few lights in the park. A lady was behind me. I slowed and mentioned that I had just passed 50 miles and that no matter how long it took me, I had done the deed. She had been there a day longer than me and had 130 miles. She was a Chech ex-pat who lived in Las Vegas and was a dealer. She walked with me for more than a lap. She wanted company to stay awake. Her goal was 200 miles but she knew she wasn't going to make it. So we talked. My voice becoming more and more ragged in the cold air (34F).  I discussed my qualms about the long road ahead. I had learned about myself as the day wore on. As the 40 mile mark passed I admitted that I don't really want to tear up my body any more than what is required for 50 miles. I don't like that idea because it might mean that I am out of commission for a couple of weeks. That happened the one time I made it to 80 miles. Nearing the middle of a cold dark night in Dallas, I became concerned about walking just long enough to extricate myself from the situation; going home as soon as possible.

When my dealer friend stopped for a bio-break, I went on by myself. I was feeling ok it seemed, except for 2 bouts with the squirts. It was nearing mid-night. I stopped at my car to eat and think about what to do. Round 3 of the squirts demanded an outlet, luckily my car was close to some really good restrooms. As I walked out, I felt totally weak and uncoordinated: bonked hard.

So I crawled into the car where there was an air mattress and a warm sleeping bag. Well problem A; the sleeping bag fits the Prius good, but I don't. So I couldn't lay flat. Hell of a time to find that out. After 50 miles it is futile to think my body is going to be comfortable on either side. And I was shivering uncontrollably; I guess I was colder than I had realized. Was I going into shock? After awhile, I began to wonder if I was using up all the oxygen in my air tight Prius. But I couldn't open a window without getting up and going around to the drivers side, then all the noise outside would be too great. I had to do something different. I had the number for the Holiday Inn on the top of my BB call log. I called them to see if they had any vacancies. They did and at 2 am, they offered me a fantastic rate.

Suddenly my race was over. Self preservation won. 10 min later, all my stuff was thrown in the car and I was on the road. By 2:30, I was in the hotel lobby and talking with the very friendly clerk who I had met the night before when I stayed there.

I showered. Drank my soy milk and swallowed some spirulina and read my book. Then, I turned off the lights and did go to sleep. At that point, except for a destroyed toe nail, my body didn't seem too bad. I woke up at 8 am and could have gone back to the race course and walked some more. I could have at least gone to get my participants medal. But I couldn't shake the idea that that was stupid. Why go continue to walk around on sore feet. My plantar tendon was the greatest vote. And I didn't go ask for my medal since I didn't want to explain to anyone why I was quitting when people in much more pain continued on.

So, I had a non-stop trip to Houston; and with no commuter traffic, I was home in 4 hours.

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