It's both the time to hold your beliefs close and protective, as well as the time to reach out and gather strength from others. It's the place where character builds upon the subconscious decisions you make minute by minute. There is little room for ego here, but much need for confidence. You can't float through this storm. But neither can you swim upriver against the currents you've let out of the dam up stream.
We are almost there. With 53 days to go until the first step on the Bruce is taken, we are almost there. When this year started, I attempted to buffer this space with adventurous distractions to keep my motivation high. This weekend is one such adventure. We are headed to Michigan for a 24hr bike race, ours spent on a tandem bike of course. Sometimes you need an adventure for adventures sake. Either that or the sound of a blind girl singing Journey on the bikes stoker seat for 22.5 hrs. Training for this event has been interesting. Most certainly I have neglected far too many coach recommended bike trainer hours. But last night I was a bit more determined to get outside and ride. With no guide (or tandem captain) available, I borrowed my daughters bike and bravely took to the high school track in the darker evening hours. I haven't ridden solo in years. I haven't had to steer in years. I haven't been solely responsible for my own safety in, well, ok... bad example...
But step back a minute. What's your training like? Do you train alone? Do you organize group long runs? Or rides? Do you go to the pool alone? Run the trails by yourself? Do you brave the gym by yourself?
This is an ongoing theme in my life. This want to prove my ability balanced upon the tipping point with the need to have help from wonderful volunteers. Whether they drive me to the trails and run slow for a few hours, or pick me up to go to the pool, or brace open water swimming tethered to a near stranger - I need them all. And I am so grateful for every second.
But back to your training, how would it be different if you had to rely on someone else's schedule, motivation, effort, availability for 88% of everything? Would you have picked that A race? Who's bringing you to the start line? Who's driving you home? Will they wait until you're finished? Who's guiding? Can they run your speed? Who is training with you? If your only trail access was by car, how often would you get exposure to the similar terrain that your race will be on? How would your training change, if you depended on others to open the doors and make it accessible?
How would your training be different if someone was relying on you, to do that for them?
A guide runners job is nearly thankless. Cramming in workouts that aren't your tempo, or at your preferred time of day, or in the location you'd love to train in. A volunteers job is less than pretty. Drive here or there. Pick up smelly gross runners. Put the bike rack on the beloved car. Change shoes and socks worth calling home about. Supplying food and water on demand to this outwardly toddler transformed person you thought you knew.
Ultra running changes you. It makes you spin around and wonder, who am I to think I can do this? Or can't do this? What do I offer the world? Why is it that strength has so very little to do with finishing this race?
Of course on a littler note, it also makes you do the sniff test on your clothes to decide whether you could get just one more run out of them. What's 50 more km gonna do? It makes you squat in places your mom might be ashamed of. It makes you an extrovert even when you just crave the quiet solace of the trail. It makes you jump in the puddles and smile at the moon. It makes you aware of the visiting rights of humans in the woods. It puts a pace in your heart rate that brings a sense of calm like no other.
But, would it do that for you, if you had to rely on others to make it so?
53 days to go. None of this would be possible without the help and support of so many people. There are those who are guiding a day on the trail in August, those I've bullied into guiding a training run already, those who put up with my rambling contemplative emails at stupid o'clock when I'm nearly caught in the space between. There are those who helped by donating what they could, those that spread the word, those that have made some calls and organized details. And there is that one person who lets me come home every night and hears my hopeful stubborn footsteps pacing around at all hours, in the dark. I have no words to express my gratitude to everyone for believing in this cause. For believing in me.
The Bruce Trails Northern Carin is calling in the distance. I hear it standing there, declaring a start as much as a beginning. I see it when I sleep. I've gotten close to the Southern Carin. It's very standoffish to me. It whispers not yet my dear, not yet. Earn your keep. Stand tall every step. And cross that space in between.
Much love on the run,