Was I ready to run 100 miles? Had my training been adequate? Should I have done more hill training? Should I have done more running on the trail? Did I have enough supplies? Enough food? The right gear?
These questions plagued me in the days leading up to Cactus Rose 100. I was scared. Not just nervous. But full-on, totally, shaking-in-my-shoes scared. I am a naturally doubting person. I have doubts about many things in life, especially the unfathomable future and my own adequacy to face it. People tend to regard doubt as a vice instead of a virtue. And sometimes they are right: doubt can be a debilitating thing.
But, sometimes it can be quite beneficial. Doubt allows for open-mindedness. It makes you see the world in new terms. It makes you cautious and humble. So, it was with a sense of deep humility that I approached my 100 mile race on October 27, 2012
I had no intention of breaking a certain time goal. My plan was to finish. I wanted to go out cautiously, maintain a steady, relentless forward motion, and enjoy myself as much as possible. I can honestly say that I did just that.
I will never forget, for instance, the sheer joy of setting up a tent before the race, curling up inside with a good book (Stephen King's "The Shining"), a bar of dark chocolate, and kicking back until race time. I'll also never forget the exhilaration of hearing the wind howl outside my tent and feeling the immense satisfaction and relief at knowing that I set up a sturdy dwelling to withstand the elements!
But, I don't want to give you the impression that my pleasure came solely from my isolation and independence. That would be dishonest because I was neither isolated or independent in my mission to complete Cactus Rose. My success would not have been possible without the countless people who supported my efforts - from the race directors to the race volunteers (Olga and her invaluable support at Equestrian Aid Station), from the friendly faces I spotted on and off the trail (Cheryl, Mark, Logan, Jason, Steven, Gordon, Liza, Jesse; the list goes on and on) to the support I received at home (my parents, my friend Fernando, even my co-workers, and my friend and mentor Lisa Smith-Batchen). In short, I was never alone out there.
I won't bore you with details about how I felt after each loop (suffice it to say, I felt good for the first 65 miles and shitty for the rest). I also won't bore you with details about what I ate and how often I urinated and all that nonsense. I will merely say that nothing extraordinary happened. Ultras aren't necessarily dramatic (real life isn't all that dramatic either - not like in the movies). Sometimes, it's just about plugging on quietly and steadily.
What I will write about is having Doug Ratliff as a pacer. Badwater Doug. Dougie. Love that guy. Love his wife, Jazzy. Without them, this whole undertaking would have been considerably more difficult. Doug ran 45 miles with me. Like a good friend and pacer should, he helped me without coddling me. He pushed me. To him, I feel I owe my buckle.
So, Cactus Rose 100 is done. Fine. Now, on to other things...