Right now, my living room is a 100 mile mess. There are two pairs of running sneakers (one a half-size bigger for the last 70 miles), headlamps, water bottles, 2 hydration systems, sports bras, a visor, panties, a lace skirt, almond butter, a 24-pack of vanilla gu, body glide, work papers, barrettes, arm warmers meant for Burning Man but now running ones when I lost my running ones, and too many other things to name. And somebody please tell me to never again fly standby (i.e., just a carry-on!) when I am running 100 miles AND spending 5 days in New Orleans. I'm not scrimping on race supplies, but there's a chance I may not have enough clothes in NOLA. Oh well. I'll repeat. Skirts, anyway!
I'm excited. I'm nervous. I'm a lot of things. My last 100 mile race was the biggest disaster of my running career. I felt like I pushed it hard, so hard, it really was crazy difficult - but I somehow, ran my suckiest time ever. I wish to forget that now.
In a way, I'm out to redeem myself. I need to prove to myself - I need to run my heart out for 100 miles. I want to PR - oh yes, that's the ultimate goal. But really, it's to discover the love I have for the sport, the fun, the excitement. Last time I ran to prove how tough I was - so tough that I pushed myself beyond the limits of sanity. This time, I will run to prove to myself that this is my first love. (Sorry, Wayne. Not like you're #2 but I fell in love w running when I was 13 and you when I was 31! You and running, you're the two most important things in my life.) I will run to discover the beauty of every step. If it sucks, I will not acknowledge that. A secret, friends - I'm going to pack my little iPod mini that I use at the gym - if it blows, I'll pull that. But really - I won't need it. I know that.
The first 20 - fun, energetic. Next 20 - I'm there, but I got it. Push it. Next 20. Push. Push. It's getting hard but it's not dark yet. Thoughts of seeing Jessica at mile 60 keep me going. Next 20 - I meet my pacer. Change shoes, clothes, get a grilled cheese in my belly. Final 20 - poor Jessica (my pacer) might shove me into the swamp. We'll get to know each other better than people who've known me for years - she'll tell me about the first person she fell in love with, I'll talk about that awful first kiss and that really terrible thing no one else knows - you cross the boundaries, in ultrarunning, everything and I mean everything comes out. She'll laugh at me as I hallucinate ridiculous things, as I pour my heart out, as I trip, as I drop my cookie on the ground and pick it up and keep eating it with the dirt, as I pee on my glove and put it back on, as I cry my heart out, as I bless the stars, as I talk about La Playa de Estrellas de Mar in Bocas and putting starfish on as a bikini top, as I babble, as I reach upwards and forwards, reaching, reaching, reaching...
Until I finish.
Which I will.
Remember, DNF is not in my vocabulary. I tried to include it, Kathy (amazing pacer at Rio del Lago) would not let me. I am seeking redemption. I will buckle. I will push beyond my limits, beyond what anyone thinks another person is capable of. Pain? Hah. Pain is weakness leaving the body. I will push forward. I will win. Not the race, necessarily. I will win for myself. I will have fun. I will enliven my spirit.
And then I will celebrate in the streets of New Orleans after.
Because I run for the love of it.