Life has a funny way of circling back, allowing you to see something from an entirely different perspective.
Most people who know me well know I have a very good memory, so me saying I have a detailed recollection of January 15, 2011 shouldn’t come as a shocker. It helps that it’s the date of my very first trail race – a 10 Miler in Durham, NC. It also helps I have a blog post about it (though the pics are gone thanks to Runner’s World purging their servers when they booted Pluck). What I didn’t write about – and what I wish I had wrote about- is that after the race Chris, Erin and I went down to Southern Pines, NC to help out at the Weymouth Woods 100k.
Fresh off my first trail race, I was in awe. I felt like such a putz filling water bottles and getting soup for these people who seemed super human yet so normal at the same time. How is it possible they had been running since 8am? It was around 4 pm when I got to the park…and I thought I had accomplished a lot that day: driven 40 min to Durham, ran 10 miles, back to Raleigh, shower, get fitted and buy a road bike, drive 90 min to Southern Pines, NC to volunteer…and my race had started at 9!
As the sun got lower in the sky and the shadows longer, we had to start reminding people to take out their headlamps. Running with a headlamp was so foreign. Trail running. At night. WTF?! I thought of how many times I fell in the daylight…how sore I was from 10 miles on the trails. Is this real life?
I got to see the winner complete his race. He was followed by a couple who looked much slower and they stopped to congratulate him. Sweaty hugs all around. The winner asked, “How much farther for you?” “About 22 miles, I think” I wanted to throw up at the thought. They had basically been running since my alarm went off that morning. So much farther to go. Yet there were smiles…and such gracious “thank yous” as I grabbed potato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. Someone said “You’re awesome” when I filled a water bottle because their frozen fingers no longer worked. Huh? Me? I’m nothing….you’re incredible.
All I know is that world seemed light years away at that point….but I remember thinking “Maybe someday I’ll be like them.” It seemed ridiculous at the time. At that point I had barely survived 2 road marathons. Ten miles on the trail seemed harder than a road half….how would 100k on trails feel?! I tucked the dream into my back pocket.
I’ve done multiple ultras since that day and even some 100ks+ races…but finishing this race 4 years later felt coming home. I hope anyone who’s in the same position I was 4 years ago realizes it’s possible…and it’s just as awesome as you think
*Real RR (hopefully) to follow. I just had to get this out.