Earlier this week I was out for one of my afternoon recovery runs and in the distance I could see the familiar run stride that could be none other than my long time friend Suzanne.
Suzanne has been in and out of my life a lot over the years. She is the friend I admire for her headstrong and take no prisoners attitude. She makes me laugh harder than anyone I know and she also listens better than everyone I know.
One of the first things she asked me about was my training. She said, “So… I heard you’re an ultra runner now?” I couldn’t stop laughing. After explaining to her the method to my madness of running a 50-mile trail race, I said I’ve never done an ultra before and so therefore how do I qualify as an ultra runner?
You know those people that ask you how far a marathon is? They all drive us crazy. Well I’m sorry to say this, but road-runners seem to have the very same problem when converting running to trails. Apparently this summer, running trails races like the 5peaks trail running series qualifies me as an ultra runner. So to quickly recap. An ultra is anything over a 50km race. In my honest opinion, 50km is not much different than a marathon and shouldn’t even be in the ultra category. The 5Peaks Trail running series is never longer than a 12km run and is the perfect series for beginner to advanced trail runners. It is not an ultra-running event.
As much as I love the ultra running world, it’s the people of the sport I admire more than the sport itself. No matter what distance you run, every runner has a great story to share. The biggest difference; the ultra runners have the best pictures to go with the stories.
As I completed my final long run this past weekend, I thought a lot about my run with Suzanne. Walking through the landscape that was my life these past two years, she said a really important thing to me. “Michelle, you’ve always known the right thing to do, you just didn’t always execute it.” This sentence stuck in my head for the rest of the week. It seems like every time I see Suzanne, my life and the story that should follow completely changes. She reminded me that in fact, it didn’t seem that way, it was that way. “When will it just be easy?, when can I just coast?” I asked her. Suzanne being unable to say anything dishonest said, “I don’t think easy, and coasting is in your future. I think you have to accept the life that you get to live, and enjoy it for what it is.”
I’ve never traveled alone to a race like this before. I’ll have no one to depend on to make sure I have my passport, to make sure I get to the correct airport, to make sure I wake up on time for the race. I’ll have no one to warm up by the fire with, before the race, no one to take selfies with, and no one to meet me at the finish line. I started this journey alone and it’s only fitting it will end that way. My life has been a roller coaster, and so naturally this 50-mile experiment is starting to follow suit. This past weekend, realizing I got on this ride alone, I feel like I’m facing the biggest climb in my life. I can see the top as I slowly move towards it.
Am I scared? YES. Do I want to throw up? YES, Do I have any regrets? NO