This past weekend was the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. That race might as well be the Super Bowl in my book. The people who finish that race are true super heroes.
Western States was originally a horse race over the mountains and canyons from Squaw Valley, California to Auburn, California 100.2 miles away. In 1974, A young man scheduled to ride came up with a lame horse and made the crazy decision to run the same course. Over the years Western States transitioned to a purely running race. It is basically the “Boston” of 100 mile ultramarathons. Athletes have less than 24 hours to finish to receive the silver belt buckle and less than 30 hours to receive the bronze belt buckle.
Oh, by the way, that young many who ran it for the very first time, Gordon Ainsleigh, is still running the race to this day.
I am always amazed and humbled by this video. These are the 24-30 hour finishers back in 2009. I always have tons of respect for the ‘regular’ people who push through and achieve amazing things. Imagine it. The 30 hour finishers saw the sun rise twice as they ran. Amazing!
Gosh!! I MISS running!
If you remember, I finished two half marathons and I was in training for a full marathon when I finally accepted that I am not a runner. It took two sprained ankles (the same one), an over-extended achilles tendon, and constant knee pain for this stubborn girl to finally get the message. I was constantly on Advil and screaming through ice baths to keep the pain at bay. And when I had to walk the last three miles of a 8 mile long run, in painful tears, I knew that it was time. I swallowed my pride and called it ‘quits.’
I turned my focus to my weight training. My goals went from distance and speed to strength. And I have improved in amazing ways. I am proud of that.
But, you know what? I MISS running!!
I miss the quiet of the pre-dawn darkness when I would take off with my headlamp and only the frogs, cows, and rooster as my companions.
I miss watching the sunrise as I am heading home from an awesome, cleansing run.
I miss trying to beat the sunset.
I miss my long runs when all I needed was on my body.
I miss being alone for 2+ hours listening to my music or just nature.
I miss the clarity that came with running long distances.
I miss having a destination and saying, “I’ll meet you there” and taking off on foot.
I miss the finish line and the cheering crowds.
I miss a lot about running.
But, my knees don’t hurt. I haven’t sprained my ankles in forever and my achilles tendon feels just fine. I am so happy to not have any pain and that is good for my psyche.
It is true that I grieve the passing of my running. Maybe someday I will get back on the road. Perhaps when my legs are stronger and my knees are better supported. I don’t know. I still have the dream on my bucket list of finishing a marathon. I won’t give up on that dream but I just need to be smart about it.
In the meantime, I will keep honking at and encouraging runners I pass on the side of the road. Y’all are my Heroes!!