quiet mind, dream mind. noise from the alarm, abrupt harsh startling.
moving, rolling turning, feet on the floor. sitting on the edge of the bed. I am upright but not awake. sky is black, no hint of dawn. why am I awake? run. have to run. time to run.
shorts tank top socks shoes hair in a ponytail. hat and sunglasses. strange to put on sunscreen when it’s dark but this will be an epic journey.
tab benoit sings about love and dirty dishes. music is cranked.
eat bite after bite of energy bars from the baggie in the fridge. must fuel the body this will be an epic journey. need calories, keep chewing.
can’t find the trailhead it is dark. where is it? there, on the side, passed it, turn around.
dust on the dirt road to teller farm trailhead. dawn lighting the sky in the distance, there are colors.
sleepy tired, so sleepy how am I going to run? one foot in front of another. that’s all that happens. one foot in front of another. running. have to run.
leo’s ready to ride. helmet on. sleepy eyes are open. bare arms in 60 degree pre-dawn darkness. we start to bush-whack through the tall grass. where are we? why are we here? hope no goat heads jump onto the path to puncture his tire. he doesn’t have an extra tube. careful on the dirt trail, careful.
warm, sweat starting to bead under my hat. arms are still cool to the touch. the morning isn’t warming up the way it has lately. will it be cooler today? doesn’t matter. we’re in for 3:30 on the trail today. sun, heat or cold, put in the hours. we’re in it for the long haul. that’s why we started at 6am. lots of miles to cover in 210 minutes. bring it on. training for the 50k in 5 weeks. have to put in the hours on the feet this week. run. keep running.
when I close my eyes it’s dark, so dark. I could still be sleeping. tired. running. trail under my feet. smell of cows, fresh manure. leo’s deep bass voice next to me, soothing and steady. telling stories. keeping me company.
breath is steady. 2.4 miles to east boulder/whiterock. familiar territory. don’t run faster. keep it steady. slow is good. 10 minute miles. slow as a snail. time on your feet. gwen says it’s not a race. not in this to win today. just running. keep running.
no cool air coming off the ditch. deer are startled as we cruise by, but they don’t move. up the hill. I push leo’s back and tell him to GO up the hill; his arms and hands are icy cold. he’s not generating any body heat by coasting at my snail’s pace. he needs to push the hill and get his blood moving to generate heat. I sweat and am warm even though arms are still ice to the touch. doesn’t matter. i’m warm in tank top and shorts. feet are solid and hat is secure. keep running.
gas is moving in my gut, I can feel it. time for a a pit stop. we discuss the options and decide to detour to the shopping center in Niwot. it’s 20 minutes out of our way but worth the sidewalk and road pounding. my legs immediately feel the abuse of concrete and right ankle squeaks in protest. no fair, I want soft mountain trail. please, soft mountain trail where I can feel the earth. no more concrete. no more abuse. please.
tod’s coffee shop, warm and inviting. lighted bathroom, plumbing and running water. just what a runner girl needs when nature calls. leo orders a dirty chair with almond milk and my mouth waters. dirty chai is this girl’s go-to drink and only Pablo makes it the way I like it, though tod’s uses a new brand of boulder-brewed chai with cayenne pepper; Serenity Chai. ohhh… yum. heaven. spices and warmth.
i’m afraid of what i will discover inside. no i’m not. i’m running and i have hope and trust. i run and push my body and pound on concrete and i still have trust. hope is not extinguished in me and i have darkness and seems that all my bridges have been burned but you say that’s exactly how this grace this works. it’s not the long walk home that changes this heart. darkness is my friend, i close my eyes and i can see and i am not alone. stars on fire, these are my desires, i will give them up to you this time. mumford and sons lyrics play in my mind. the coffee shop is warm and inviting but it’s time to move, can’t let the muscles get cold.
pound, pound on the sidewalk. so little road training, muscles and tendons rebel. can’t take the abuse. ouch. please no, don’t pound on the concrete. need soft trails, where are my sweet mountains?
on to the trail again, feet feel the difference through my sneakers and there is slight relief though my ankle hurts. tight and ouch, too much. haven’t rolled it, why is it pulling, tight and tweaky? keep running, keep running, that’s the only answer, keep running. only when you dig deep will you find the answers. keep running.
another trailhead, a pause. we’re behind schedule. i can’t go any faster, will leo get to work on time? guilt, guilt plays in my mind, he’s going to be late because of me. iphone, texting, arranging meetings, it’s all set. stretch my leg, massage the ankle. he grabs my ankle and calf in his huge hands and applies pressure to the tendons and muscle; they move unwillingly with his insistence and i gasp. hurt, but a good hurt. release. thank you. i can run again. keep running.
back on the trail, no detour this time. whatever bowel disfunction is happening will keep until teller farm trailhead. simple math has escaped me for so long, but I plow through it and calculate that this run will last 3:30 and total about 21 miles. not the longest distance I’ve ever run but the second longest tim, shy by 17 minutes. feet are tired.
leo asks about my legs. i point to the spots; tight right glute, left IT bamd, right ankle and left foot feels like a bone is loose. the pain spots zig-zag across my legs, typical of tight places. one touches another; nothing is stand-alone in a body, it’s all connected and my heart connects to them all.
i can’t open my hips any more, they are tight. in yoga, loose hips mean that your heart is open. i can’t open my heart on road, the pounding and brutal concrete hurts, it’s mundane and isolating and disconnecting, can’t feel the energy of the earth or my own power. i’m worn down.
back on whiterock trail and we circle around. home territory. i take off in the dirt trail and leo watches me go, wondering about my direction. i’m doing a loop leo, follow me. he does. i’m bonking leo, have to stop. almond butter pack in my nathan hydration pack, have to eat. protein for my body, i’m burning so many calories, need to replenish. i can’t listen to conversation, my body is shutting down. have to eat.
helicopter flies over us from the north; we watch it grow larger then diminish into the mountains to the west. patches of sunlight dapple the flatirons and two swallows chase each other on the wind currents, growing smaller as they disappear into the tall grasses that cover the hillside. quiet, so quiet. tired. sleepy tired. keep running. have to finish this. he’s late because of me and i have to keep going.
sun is out and the air is warmer now, finally. touch his arm and hand; they’re warm. human warmth, blood is moving. can’t be cold, don’t be cold. sunshine is life. bring on the sunshine, we need you, light the trail and warm the air. cold, so cold. my arms are still cold. i’m sweating and cold. don’t stop running, keep running, don’t get cold.
two more miles now, so close. bonking again. chocolate power gel has a shot of espresso. i suck out two swallows and my stomach turns. doesn’t feel good, don’t eat that, yuck, too sweet and sugary, body rebelling. slow to a walk now, hand to the stomach, pressing holding, pressure. ouch. hurts.
keep running. the faster you go, the sooner you’ll finish. Gwen’s words from the marathon when she leap-frogged through the streets, calling out and cheering me on. Screaming at other runners, telling them to move their butts and get it over with. keep running. i’m running Gwen. I’ll always run. i won’t stop, I promise.
one more mile. half a mile. quarter mile left. I made it. keep going. 3:30. 3:31. Are those umbrellas up ahead? Yes, they are. 3:32. artists are here, drawing and painting. 3:33. leo gets a flat tire as we enter the parking lot. he made it 20.75 miles and got a flat 40 feet from the car. I’m thrilled with his luck. happy. so happy. we did it.
he puts his bike away and heads to work. use the facilities and go home. I need fluid, electrolytes, food, shower and rest.
quiet now, pounding is done. clean, fed, clothed and rested. hours later and legs are okay. i kept running. i ran.