A week ago we were sitting at the Baptism River. The change was pronounced–the long absent feeling of vigor and strength drained back into me (a weird expression, indeed!), as the six-month malaise began to lift. It was no longer a motion repeated ad nauseam in a self-contained cycle meant only to fulfill itself–no, I was alive! (Thankfully) I sprang from my seated position, announcing to my companions that I was no longer the shuffling dolt who produced only unimpressive tangles with nature, best described as exceedingly meh.
- After kid-sitting for our strep-throat infected neighbor children, Michelle unsurprisingly acquired strep throat. The timing was unfortunate for me, as I succumbed to the nastiness in a window that resulted in both illness and side effects from the antibiotics peaking on race day. My outlook was not especially bright or my motivation high, but I resolved to suffer through it anyway, reasoning that prolonged misery and helplessness would be good for me.
- The shape of the story is sometimes as meaningful as the narrative. In the underbelly, it processes the form to mean something, to distill everything into a sense of purpose not inherently found in the trivial words describing my life. I make an agreement–I will construct pleasing blocks of text that may or may not represent actual, real things that are happening in my life. Recently, it has come infrequently or in obnoxious, lumpy ideas that necessarily constrain themselves to bulleted lists and tables.
- West Gooseberry to Fox Farm Road I woke up cold. Within minutes of crawling out of the tent my hands were shaking and my teeth were chattering. Jared assured me that it was, in fact, not very cold, and that there was probably something seriously wrong with me. I put on all of my clothing and paced up and down the short hill near our campsite. After a few minutes, I felt normal again.
- 270 overlook to Kimball Creek It was 6:44am on a beautiful Saturday morning. We stood at the northern end of the Superior Hiking Trail gazing off into the majestic wilderness. Somewhere out there was a place called “Canada”. Since its precise boundaries eluded my unscientific mind, I reflected only in dramatic, sweeping gestures that lacked any degree of specificity. It fit the moment. The grogginess of sleeping only three hours the previous night dissipated as we marveled at the gloriousness of being small creatures, comically dropped into a fictional landscape.
- Cascade Crest lottery and Fat Dog 120 The Cascade Crest lottery lacked the high drama of the Western States lottery, with the results appearing in an anticlimactic lump on Saturday morning. Buoyed by the feeling of community from the morning’s brunch at Surly, I was convinced my name would appear on the list next to Jared Vanderhook. It did…on the waitlist in 174th position out of 185 people. The entire field would need to drop for either of us to get into the race.
- Starting over By the time we returned to Houston, I could barely walk. My trashed quads, hamstrings, and glutes had me comically leaning into my trekking poles to make the short traverse across the driveway. After a flight delay, and many hours spent sitting either at the airport or on the plane, I returned to Minneapolis scarcely able to confront the challenge of concourse C. Michelle would scurry ahead at an impossible pace, while I lagged behind, trying to straighten my stride enough to avoid the curious, unsympathetic stares from strangers.
- Lap one I was only a little bit sick and it wasn’t going to rain until later. Good, good. I’d made a handful of dubious decisions race morning, including what shirt to wear, where to apply lube, and whether or not I would chase my lofty goal of a sub twenty hour finish. The consequence of the first two choices was that I would end the race with bloody nipples, stealthily concealed behind the red canvass of my Mill City Running singlet.