38.5 miles to be exact…
So I am reading this awesome book right now, “To the Edge: A Man, Death Valley, and the Mystery of Endurance” by Kirk Johnson. The book is great and it has me really getting mentally prepared for my upcoming spate of ultras. In addition to that I have been doing a bit of chatting with the Blink Meister and Run Bubba Run…and, well, they are a bad influence on my already linited ability to stay away from the races, the book, the Blink and the Bubba…bad influences I tell you. I have gone and tossed in a bit of an event for the weekend, just something to keep me occupied,
I just couldn’t help myself…I couldn’t resist the siren song of a nice long trail run through the mountains of central New Mexico…I’m weak, lord help me I’m weak.
The Ghost Town 38.5 was my first ever ultra-distance event and I have intended to go back ever since and I don’t know, this feels right…to kick off my ultra year in my own back yard. and the race director for this event is awesome. I wrote her a brief e-mail just to let her know I was coming because it is so last minute and here was part of her response:
"Hi, Brian,Very cool on you returning to the Ghost Town. I remember you, I remember all my runners - you're like family to me!"
So, I was talking to my interns today, who did their first ever ½ marathon last weekend at the RR Arizona…(yea them!) and mentioned my developing thoughts. Their eyes got big and they innocently said, “But Dr. Pilgrim, don’t you need to rest from your marathon 2 weeks ago? Aren’t you supposed to take time off? Isn’t there some kind of limit to how many events someone can do in a year?!”
I just stared at them kind of blankly and said, “I don’t know…I mean, sure you need rest and recovery but I honestly don’t know where the boundaries of MY endurance lies. I mean, you have people who run 50 marathons in 50 days, run across the continent on consecutive days, run the length of the Pacific Crest Trail, the Sahara Dessert, I don’t know what I can do.”
I honestly can't just pin this on Blink or Bubba, though because one of the ideas I have been considering lately is that rising to great challenges has the power to strip you down to your core being, they can boil you down to your essence so that all the accretions of life just slough off like strips of old paint in a chemical bath. The facades, the defenses, the over-built egos, the fears, the disappointments…everything that is toxic in life, everything that is toxic about life and everything that separates you from life all falls away if only for a day and you can reach a new level of clarity, of vision and of perspective and it allows you to live life more authentically and with greater courage, which in my opinion is a lot more fun and a lot more interesting.
I suppose that in large measure that is what I'm after, not because I am overly burdened by life's troubles...I am not, just because I do have a bit of anxiety about life passing me by and to me that is about the saddest thing I can immagine. There are some Pink Floyd lyrics that roll around in my head often - "Ten years have got behind you No one told you when to run You missed the starting gun " the first time I heard that I was maybe 20 or so, I mean really heard it and wondered, "Can that really happen, can someone kind of check out and get caught up in day to day junk and lose 10 years of their life?" Yes, they can...I see it every single day in my work...every day.
But look, I know there are some limits and I know that I can’t magically just hope I can go out and run a 100 miler this weekend and then do it without paying a serious price. There is a process, a physical and mental development that must occur in order to be able to cover any distance in a way that is healthy and, well, dare I say reasonable?
I think I’m there for this distance, this weekend, right now and so off I go to Hillsboro New Mexico to spend some quality time with myself and the woods and the trail.