I like doing distance because it gives me a chance to look inside myself and see what I am made of. There are emotions. There are thoughts. It is about self transcendence. It is about prayer.
There is a community of runners which does ridiculous numbers of marathons. My trail-mates for this event are people who have run anywhere between their first and their 1,500 marathon. But mostly people who have run gobs of marathons. I've only run 68, a relatively low number. This was a six day series. I only ran 4 of them. Most of the other 85 or so marathoners in each race ran all 6.
And, if I can run 4 marathons in 4 days, then maybe I've got a fix on how a multi-day race might come out. I'm in terrific shape right now.
Here also, there is the camaraderie of the other runners. I see people I know at these races. Maybe it is about relationships. A relationship with Clyde, or Larry. Clyde was at my first triple marathon this May. Clyde is 69. He was finishing his 200th marathon. They had his picture around the course and on the last lap numerous people, mostly an entourage of girls, joined him; along with having impromptu pit stops where he drank some alcoholic beverage. It just so happens that I was finishing my marathon on that lap too. Clyde and his entourage kept passing me and then stopping to drink; when I would get ahead again. Finally I made sure I got ahead and finished before he got there so I wouldn't finish in the middle of his party. Clyde was at my first quad, but a much different version whose wisdom I enjoyed.
Then there is the matter of old people doing amazing things. Like 84 year old women finishing Iron Man triathlons within the time limit. Women of my mother's generation! I am "only" 57, yet it is my generation that first ran an Olympic marathon, who first finished Iron Man triathlons. At these races, I meet some of these amazing elderly athletes.
And why? It all started with reading race reports of people who did these events and how they felt about it. It started with the 3,100 Mile Self Transcendence Race. All of these distance events cause people to look inside.
I wanted to look inside my soul. If I went in an event, I'd do more than I would do by myself.
In February of 2016, I was successful at running a double marathon (2 marathons in 2 days). I was super pumped and in the zone on day 2. I quickly signed up for two more races which were triple marathons. At each of these, day 3 was super zone day and I ran incredibly fast.
I had known of Mainly Marathon series for more than a year. I kept looking and wondering how I could do such an event. I don't have much vacation time. There is alot of driving each day. Moving hotels each day. But under all that is a multi-day endurance event which I had a chance of doing.
I got a very large bonus from my company this year. I decided that I would take a week off work without pay and go on a marathon adventure with that money. On April 20, I bought my air plane ticket. On April 22, I signed up for the races. My dream was to become a reality.
On September 12, the day before flying out, I'm wondering why I am doing this thing. What alot of energy expended to fly to Denver, drive to South Dakota, then Wyoming, then Nebraska, then Colorado again. For what?
In the days leading up to the race, I didn't have any meaningful thoughts about why. Mostly I felt lethargy.
After a perfect flight from United airlines, in first class on a dream liner, I drove though gloomy and cold weather from Denver to Spearfish, SD. The first thing I did in Spearfish was buy a cheap jacket at Walmart. It was cold for this Gulf Coast girl.
First marathon was in Belle Fourche South Dakota. It was on a bike path along a river. I ran it using 3x2s in 5:47.
ACIM lesson: My holy vision sees all things as pure.
Thoughts: This trip is the ultimate ego fiasco. I'll do it all and still not know the existential me; or not have changed my ego's anger at all.
Second marathon was in Sundance Wyoming. It was on a horribly rocky gravel road around a fair grounds. I walked and jogged based on the footing in 5:48. The uneven footing beat up my toes more than I wanted and I began to worry. I had worn an extra knee support on my right knee and was very glad that the knee was protected from the extra wobbling.
ACIM lesson: I am surrounded by the love of God.
Thoughts: Talking to Clyde, he said he tries to make everyone's life happier by trying to put smiles on their faces. I totally felt my own reticence at that moment. I felt my dis-like of colleagues due to my own biases. My life is a struggle with myself. I know I am difficult and keep trying to be better.
Driving to Chadron, I saw a perfect double rainbow. I sensed something bigger than myself; or a gift.
Third marathon was in Chadron Nebraska. It was in a beautiful park and mostly on park road; except for a patch of grassy trail that we covered each lap, out and back. The grassy trail was uneven and I worried about turning an ankle; it also beat up the toes. I was worried that I'd not be able to do marathon #4 after that.
ACIM lesson: Creations gentleness is all I see.
Thoughts: Specialness and self pity. I was judging the people who had achieved various levels of marathon quantity awards, frequent marathon awards, shirts saying "I did this" or that. As I struggled with the "trail", I felt sorry for myself, but also realizing I'm there with many other people doing the same thing. I thought about how difficult it is to bring anonymity and service into my life.
Fourth marathon was in Sterling Colorado. It was in a beautiful park and on good dirt footing; though a little hilly. I used mostly 3x2s and finished in 6:20.
ACIM lesson: My holy Self abides in you God's Son.
Day 4 of my time on course, many of the other runners recognized my steadiness in going forward. I thought that maybe my jogging and power walking were helping them to do more.
I cried at the end of the last lap. I was over come with emotion that I actually finished my first quad. This was the brief moment when I knew my soul. It took 4 days and over 100 miles, but finally I felt myself without my ego's intervention. The JOY brought tears to my eyes and tremendous NOW.
After the race, I talked to Clyde. He talked about the family of marathoners. People joined in doing something they love. I was among people like me. People who think a vacation is to go and run several marathons. Clyde lives in Texas so I will see him again.
The deepest longing and yearning that every human has for "something." That is really why we were there. It wasn't the Titanium Award, or the Everest Award, or the world's record for most lifetime marathons. It was the human spirit.
At a minimum, this vacation brought a relief from thoughts about work. Experiences bring thoughts. But I am not at my end, no conclusion. I am still on a journey. I don't have the final answer to my being.
Osmium Marathon Maniac is 4 marathons in 4 days.