I'm an addict. An ultrarunning addict.
Erin and Mary and Iliana all decided to do the Wildcat Ultra - 50miler with Erin and Iliana, 50k for Mary. How could I not do it? How can I not do a nearby ultra?
Sigh. Sign me up.
What distance? 50 miles, of course. I love 50 milers. I knew it would've been smarter to sign up for the 50k, but smartness when it comes to running is not always something I specialize in. To make things better, I decided I'd run easy - run with a friend, just chill, have a fun day of trail running.
Erin, Iliana and I started with the 50 mile start, laughing, joking, up the hills, rocks, rocks, rocks, mud. "I didn't know there were hills in New Jersey." No indeed. But let's move on.
It was hot, humid. Stream crossing. We talked, joking, keeping the pace easy. Erin was having a terrible day, Iliana was being chafed and impacted by the humidity, so I held back with them, enjoying the easy pace, trying to cheer them up.
After one lap, it was clear 50 miles would be really difficult at the pace. With the pace problems and the humidity, we all decided to drop down to the 50k. I was secretly relieved, as I had run 100 miles three weeks before and am running a rather important 50k, ahem, the Burning Man Ultramarathon, in two and a half weeks. So yeah, probably not the best idea to do a 50 miler on still-tired legs.
We ran. We talked. The stream crossing sucked every time, and I celebrated our reduction to a 50k on the crossing. "At least we only have to do this one more time after this instead of three more times!" Erin laughed at me when my butt was completely covered in dirt and mud when I was leaning over in the stream, washing my hands.
We talked about books, about work, about life, about love. We talked about running, about how we felt (poor Erin was not having her best day), about races, about everything...We acted like how other people did when they were at the bar - catching up. Someone woman running behind us in the ten miler option, panted, "How do you talk - so normally?" We're just used to it. We told some crazy stories, stories that probably kept her motivated.
I actually felt pretty good - the pace was easy, my legs felt relaxed and I didn't feel too stressed or crazed. It was perfect, just what I needed - happy chill running on beautiful trails with good friends. Rick promised we'd see bears but I'm glad he was wrong and the bears didn't keep up his promise.
We ran into Johnny and Mishka and Lesley and other friends - we exchanged sweaty hugs, complained about the humidity. Many people dropped - the humidity and rocks and difficulty were just a lot.
We trucked on. We sucked down water, complained about the humidity, stumbled over all the many rocks, climbed the hills, ran up, down, pushed, pushed. Erin impressed me with how hard she could push even when she was in such misery - that's part of what ultrarunning is all about. Pushing past your limits. We talked about runners who did not understand ultrarunning and who put their nose up in the air. Why? I can never run a fast 100 meters or do the 400 meter hurdles in any sort of respectable manner, but that doesn't mean I'm knocking it. I don't get it.
We finished with slow times, but happy. I sucked down a coconut water and Johnny who nicknamed me "Princess Bubblegum" made sure I got a proper adult beverage. We ate cookies and brownies and talked and hung out and ate watermelon and cheered everyone else on, ultra-style.
We hugged and were happy and went home and relaxed. Because we knew at the end of the day. it's always worth it to push yourself to see what you can do - even if you don't feel like it.