Just about 24 hours to go, until “take-off,” in the U.S. Trail Marathon Championships in Moab, Utah and I am experiencing the familiar neurotic behaviors I exhibit prior to a running endeavor I really care about. The trips to the store for more liquids than a human possibly needs-everything from Mexican Coca-Cola (I prefer real sugar to high fructose corn syrup during the race), to Cherry Juice, to a high carb, healthy (and sweet) Japanese rice shake called Amazake; the perpetual fretting about the condition of my legs: “…am I sore? Do I need to foam roll that knot our of my lateral quad? Sleep! I need Sleep!….” Thankfully, resting solidly beneath these restless cogitations is the bedrock of confidence that my years of experience have built, racing experiences which began back in 1988, when I thought I would puke multiple times during classes at Boulder High school, the day of the first XC race of my life, and continue to this day, November 2nd, 2012.
That bedrock to which I refer is hauntingly deep. Perhaps that’s because the formation of it requires me to embrace this bewildering Paradox: In order to gain authentic confidence and know my transcendent nature, I must feel my brokeness. When the challenge is so great that that I must surrender control, this is breaking into the realm of Soul. I Love holding such paradox. I did survive that day, back in 1988, the butterflies and knots in my stomach still a potent muscle-memory. In letting go and allowing my higher self to win-out over the fear and resistance, I was rewarded with my virgin layer of bedrock. Such has been the way I have added to the depth of my foundation for twenty-six years and counting.
Everyone says of the marathon: “the race begins at mile twenty,” and “anything can happen in the last six miles.” Yesterday I was pondering with a runner in my treadmill interval class at Rally Sport Fitness Club in Boulder: “what motivates a long distance runner?” I had talked her into forming a team and running the “24 Hours of Boulder” race, put on by Gemini Adventures at the Boulder Reservoir two weeks ago. She was one of ten people alternating running a 7 mile out and back stretch of dirt road, trail and canal, for 24 hours. Many participants were there solo. We marveled at the choice to run 100 miles for a full day and night: “what do they think about?” “what drives them?”
I am driven to run long distances to break out of the narrow two-dimensional reality I spend most of my time in. I want to feel the depths, widths and breadth of my SOUL. I want Let my Heart break open and allow the precious Heart substance which melts out of the cracks to be the “mortar” for the bedrock which is my confidence. Each layer formed, is more depth to my being. I believe it was Steve Jones, my coach, who first used metaphor a “well-” to remind me of my my potential. On my to Athens, Greece for the World Track and Field Championships in 1997, he said: “every workout and race you’ve run, is part of your well; you can draw on it forever.” Tomorrow, as I run along the cracks in the slick rock of Moab, Utah, I will visualize my precious Heart-nectar filling the cracks beneath my feet, creating a stronger foundation with each step I take. The earth will be sending it’s eternal life-force right back into my body, giving me inspiration for a race beyond any definition for “success” my conscious mind comes up with.
Once during a Press Conference at Freihoffer’s Run For Women, the U.S. 5k Road Championships, all four of us-Libby Hickman, Annette Peters, Lynn Jennings and I-were asked: What do you hope to do tomorrow, in the race? In a rare and liberating moment, I blurted out, simply: “At some point in the race, I want to feel like I’m flying!” That got a smile out of even Lynn Jennings, who had a habit of putting on her Game Face early and with a ferocity which left an impression.
I have to run to experience the vastness which IS me; what I feel when I get out of my own way, having stared down the fear. Back in 1988, I knew of only the will to keep the puke down, still very much on the physical level. Today, I play with entering an internal space in which I am actually inviting the nectar out of the cracks in my open heart.
The definition of “soul” is “the principle of life, feeling, thought and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part.”
This weekend, in the Project Athena Moab Trail Marathon, we will fly along the slick-rock and the sandy trails and dirt roads of a landscape which sets my soul free, just being in it. The wind and water-carved unique shapes and colors invite me to tap into the Creative Consciousness of the entire Universe. The journey, the metaphors, the energy, the depths of ourselves we plumb: they are all boundless, like we are, when we RUN.