This is 2019…
It’s been nearly six months since my last blog post, the longest since I began writing about my running in 2016. That post, from July, was about a heartbreaking DNF, perhaps leading a reader to believe that my running life subsequently fell apart. That’s not what happened. Instead, I completed my first 200 mile race in August.
200 miles! You’re thinking. Why the hell didn’t you write about that!? I don’t have a great answer. I was tired, mentally and physically. I didn’t have adequate words. For the first seven months of 2018, I put everything I had into that race and, when it was over, I experienced the deep, post-race depression that many feel but it was a first time for me. I started hanging out again with the friends (and the husband) I’d abandoned all summer in the name of training. I ate and drank with abandon and put on 11 pounds. I started a new job and began traveling excessively. And I didn’t know how to get back… to whatever I was trying to get back to.
On December 2, I watched the live Twitter feed of the 2019 Western States lottery draw in California from my phone while sitting in a bistro in Paris. Western States is my dream. I don’t have a bucket list; I have Western States. But it is notoriously difficult to get into for non-elites like me. Some have waited up to eight years to hear their name called in the lottery; this was only my third year trying. Two hours and one bottle of wine later, I would need to plan for a fourth year.
So I looked to 2019. I contemplated the Moab 200, but I didn’t feel mentally ready for the build up to another 200 miler. I settled on the Burning River 100 and the Javelina Jundred, both Western States qualifiers, the latter having been on my “to do” list for a while. I’d committed to running R2R2R and the Born to Run 4-day, each somewhat of a lark in a way only ultra runners understand the definition. I registered for the CCC lottery, part of the UTMB series, because I had the qualification points to do so and decided it would probably be fun if I got in, but not because I really had a fire in my belly for it. And I restocked my refrigerator with kale and La Croix.
On January 3, the message came.
Would I pace Tracie’s friend Lisa, another member of our 10,000 person online running group, the final 50 miles at Leadville? Fly from Seattle to Colorado and run more than 12 hours through the night and above 9000ft with someone I’ve never actually met? Because Leadville is sitting in her heart and in her gut and she wants it so badly but it scares the shit out of her? (Because I know exactly what it feels like to teeter on the edge of crushing self doubt and something epic?)
I couldn’t respond fast enough.
And so this is what it feels like to be back. This is 2019…