This isn’t my Javelina Jundred race report. I hope to write one of those too, as this whole event was such a different experience from other races that it definitely warrants description. But no, this is another one of those vague and squishy literary rambles where I try (and fail) to encapsulate with words what ultrarunning means to me. If you didn’t like my post-Mountain Lakes writeup a bit over a year ago, best to stop reading now eh.
I’ve been going through some shit. Hell, we all are going through some shit. I recently lost my best friend abruptly in a way that left me extremely confused and wounded. I often worry that I’d been irreparably broken by how it all went down, as the joy in life that I’d found so easily before seemed a distant memory. With perspective though, I’m probably way too melodramatic, and my shit likely pales in comparison to other people’s shit; but it was my shit, and it overwhelmed me at times, pounding on the walls of my mind with lamenting wails while I stumbled through the day-to-day. I went down to the desert to race hard, yes, but my real motivation wasn’t any particular race result; only to suffer, and through that suffering, to remember what I am and how strong I am. I went down there to cauterize those wounds with the flame of suffering and reclaim my mind and my joy.
I sometimes think of pain -whether emotional or physical- as a stone thrown in a bucket, agitating it and tormenting the waters held within. But I’ve found through ultrarunning that we aren’t the bucket, we’re a fucking ocean! Nothing can touch us, really; the ocean barely feels the stone, it just accepts it with little more than a ripple across its great expanse. As the miles accumulated under the heat of the desert sun, the water in my bucket started to bubble and then boil, and the flimsy walls holding it melted, and I flowed back into my ocean.
It’s interesting how it seems that opening the extremes for pain also opens the extremes for love. The emotions following a race like this are so intense. I found myself getting tears in my eyes on our flight home while my friend Hannah snoozed in the seat beside me, thinking of the kindness of strangers -from our Phoenix hosts who opened their home to us, or the couple that saw my trophy on the plane and surprised me by buying me a beer which initiated a super pleasant conversation- so many little interactions that seemed to redeem humanity for me. I want to hug every stranger and somehow transfer to them this joy that I feel!
I know from my experience post-Mountain Lakes and other events that this feeling will fade, and my heart will become small and contained again, but the feeling still lingers now, and I LOVE EVERYONE! And maybe my next bucket will be a size or two larger when it reforms, congealing again with the cooling effect of the mundane day-to-day; maybe even much larger, with increasingly weaker and more translucent walls.
It may not make much sense, but this is why I run 100 miles. This is my ‘Why’. ?