I've done the Bear Mountain 50 Miler twice, so it should be cake. I know the course. I run here way too much. But that wasn't to be. Horrible personal problems that I won't go into prevented me from doing anything in the first 25 miles but moving forward, slowly. I was overwhelmed with sadness, and found my race ruined like never before. How could I run when -- how? I ran but I found my motivation slagging as my mind wandered into sad, dangerous territories.
But at mile 25, I ran into the amazing John Budge. I met John when he signed up to do the Burning Man Ultra, and we haven't really hung out tons. But here, we were able to hang out - for 25 miles. We talked about love, our first kisses, how he proposed to his wife, crazy times at Burning Man, what motivates us, that sort of thing. If it hadn't been for him, I probably would have gone crazy. I probably would still be sitting on a rock, bawling my eyes out, muddy knees to my chest, dirt-tear-streaked face seeing nothing but my own thoughts. But John - he saved me. I told John, "I need to stay out of my head. You are saving my race." I think he really enjoyed the times too. We both agreed we made each other's day. I pushed both of us, and when I was weak, he pushed us. We worked together, and it was really a beautiful example of teamwork - and friendship. In ultras, the barriers fall down and people become close so quickly. When I finished, I was so happy - because I struggled past something that could have really held me back. Yes, there were plenty of tears, plenty, a sleepless night, crying on rooftops - but first, there was a strong hug for John.
A friend remarked after I reported on my turnaround, "X0 Cherie. You're one tough chicita bonita. You inspire me for so many reasons, especially your ability to "smile" through a sh*tstorm and turn things around to be positive no matter what." I thank Deanna for that, though sometimes, I wish there wasn't a sh*tstorm for me to be positive through - can't I just be positive on a sunny day and persevere? Like this woman told me about her first 50 miler (with a very generous cut-off) -- "I just got in my car in the middle and cried for two hours. I was so cold. But it made me stronger." I thought through my tears, "But I don't want to suffer so it makes me stronger - I want to enjoy and yes, suffer a little, but why can't I get stronger without getting my ass kicked again and again? Can I have a good race for once?"
Even though the day began and ended with tears, the middle part was full of friendship, cookies, and Burning Man tales.
Thank you, John. And thank you to all the beautiful strangers who pushed me with their love and help and kind words. You are true beautiful ultrarunners and I love that you are in my sport.