When I ran the Iroquois Trail 50 Miler (now known as the Virgil Crest 50 Miler), the race was hard. Hilly, mountainous, exposed. It was a rough race but I still managed to scrape out a fairly respectable time, and I believe, was either 3rd or 4th woman. I was in a lot of pain, as we often are when running long distances - but I pushed forward.
The same time, my Grandma was going through radiation for cancer. She has recurrent melanoma. I love my Grandma dearly and decided I would dedicate my race to Grandma. Anytime I felt pain, I thought, "This is nothing like what Grandma is experiencing. Grandma is in more pain. PUSH ON." And I did.
My Papa died nearly two years ago and there isn't a day that I don't miss him. Even writing this, I have tears in my eyes. He was such a special and wonderful man and I miss him dearly.
He wanted to die. He didn't want to be in pain anymore.
I was not there when he died. I was at Burning Man. The moment he died, I was either starting to wake up or running to the farmer's market on the playa with my friend Rachelle. But that night, I went to the temple and wrote something for my Papa. I wrote, "Papa, I don't want you to be in pain anymore."
And he wasn't.
So, when I run the Vermont 100, although my Papa is now passed, I will think about him. My foot has been hurting me (I have an appt Friday morning 845, which should be enough time to cure me, right?). But even if nothing's wrong, 100 milers are painful. They suck. You are crying in the middle of the night, cursing at twigs, saying how you hate your mother for giving birth to you so that you might do this, glad your partner isn't there b/c you'd break up with them because of some silly excuse. Your shin hurts, your butt hurts, you stomach hurts, oh god, everything hurts.
This year, it'll hurt. I know it does, it always does. (Especially miles 70-100, oh god, at least I'll have fabulous pacers then!) But this time, I'll dig deep. Papa, this race is for you. You might not be here, but I'll be thinking of you. And when it hurts, I'll remember the pain you suffered. I'll remember the light you were in so many people's lives.
And I'll push on.