The adventures of Legolas and Gimli
The day of the New York Marathon that never was… so it seemed appropriate that two native east coasters go galavanting in the California mountains for a twenty two mile run. It was my first run over twenty miles in preparing for my 50k, and I was excited yet terrified.
The run began as any other: uneventful. But, at mile two, the trail had a sign that said it was closed. We both looked at each other, and decided to trek on, thinking (hoping) that the sign was for horses.We were wrong. For some reason, the county decided to groom and widen the trail, and it became soft and sandy. For a mile and a half, we ran through soft dirt. I tried not to panic, but I felt pressure in my chest as I tried to hold back the tears.
mile two… 20 to go…
expending so much energy..
seeing so little in return.
Questioning my ability to continue.
I choked back the tears, ran through my emotional exhaustion, and eventually the trail evened out to “normal” terrain.
I found my stride. For thirteen miles I chugged along at a steady pace. We entered an alternate universe of ferns and redwoods, silence and leaves, creeks and rocks. Time did not exist, the only noise was my breathing. For thirteen miles, the universe stood still.
As we neared the peak, I knew we had one more climb before the final descent… about 400 ft, and my stomach started to turn at the thought of it…
“I love hills, I love hills, I love hills” I kept saying to myself. I heard the pitter patter of feet behind me on the freshly fallen leaves, and I giggled. Before I knew it, the pitter patter of her feet were no longer behind me and my elvish friend Pam was racing up to the peak, while I was gasping for air thudding along thinking, I love hills…I love hills…I FUCKING LOVE HILLS! When I finally got to the top, unable to talk, I pointed in the direction we should go, and saw her feet elevate off the ground and she took off. For a moment, I empathized with Gimli as he gasped for air trying to keep up with Legolas saying, “must…keep… breathing”
5.5 miles down to the parking lot… easy right?
Feeling light headed…
Needing to fuel.
Wondering: how would I get the power bar?
a bench appeared
remove pack…place on bench… eat power bar… walk a few steps… and go…
I felt horrible…
my legs were wobbly…
and running down hill never felt so awful.
But, the thought of abandoning Pam at the parking lot motivated me to continue running.
I ran the last two miles with hopeless abandon. I wasn’t paying attention to my feet, or any part of my body for that matter. I had one thought… get to the parking lot…
my legs hurt
my head hurt
I was out of water
I picked up the pace…
Finally, I could see the parking lot, I reached the clearing, and I sprinted the final 200 yards.
But when I got to my car, Pam wasn’t there.
She must have been at least 15 minutes ahead of me.
What happened to her?
I looked in the bathroom, in the barn, at the arena. ..
15 minutes later… out of the corner of my eye, I saw her jumping up and down running towards me.
After a long embrace, I suddenly remembered my fatigue. Afterwards, I realized that in the midst of a four and half hour run with several thousand feet elevation gain, each time I wanted to give up, I forced myself to center on my breathing… one breath at a time . Somehow… with each breath… all my concerns dissipated into the ferns and creeks and rocks on the trail.