Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Most Indulgent Race Report Ever...


First 100, Last Race Report

Two sounds leaked into his sleep and washed him conscious . One was the soft, sustained wheeze of rain against the thin, metal roof of the hostel´s dorm room. The other was thunder, tumbling down from the sky some distance away. His eyes opened as wide as was permitted by an afternoon spent drinking scotch that became a night of drinking beer. Two tiny slivers of the world crept past his cautiously parted eyelids. Another sound, equal in tenderness to a mother kissing her infant, accompanied his drool-wet lips as they lifted from the mattress and turned towards the window.

“Oh, you stupid rotten fuck of a filthy dogman, you. You are unforgiveably stupid and pitiful.”

He swallowed the words, but not their sentiment.  His tongue felt foreign. Had he been smoking cigarettes? The taste in his mouth whispered to him of an evening ill-spent. It was a flavor that indicated there would be consequences.

Upon sitting upright in the creaky frame of the bunk bed, his vision blurred and his memory began to capture only a few morning details. A pair of barefeet on cold tile floor. The doorway. A shirt? His? Water. Bread. Pants. No. Shorts. Backpack. Running shoes. Waterbottle. Water. Powdered drink. Water. Hat. Door. Sun. No. Clouds. No. Sun? Drizzle. Footsteps…his own and leading out of the hostel´s front gate and to the street.

The intermitted slap of sun into his eyes, out of place against the bruise-dark thunderheads, confused him and added to the lump of quickly solidifying dread and slowly churning breakfast in his stomach. What was he doing? Running? Really? Now? Yes, now, for he could already see the mass of other runners a block away, milling about in their matching orange shirts, stamping their feet and chomping at invisible bits, each mounted by an invisible rider. There were hundreds of runners, but viewed spread out along the starting corral they were a single, orange, pulsing serpent.

He entered through the orange serpent´s mouth and soon found himself staring not into the empty sockets of a half-digested rat, but into the very individual, very alive and peppy faces of his fellow runners. A few mumbled “hola´s,” a handful of slurred “suerte´s.”
He breathes deep and tries to focus. Cigarettes. Beer. Best not to think about that. He shudders a bit. What did he say to her last night? What does he ever say? Why do some hangovers have such a nostalgic bent? He shudders again and pushes those thoughts up and into his nose. Firmly pressing his finger against one nostril, he sprays them out onto the street.

Counting now. Cuatro, tres, dos…Leaning forward under the weight of his backpack, he begins to shuffle forward. His feet feel warm. Cameras. Cheering. No thoughts now. Just forward. Forward. Forward.

Forward.

The sea is life. A mountain is death.

The sea is where life began and a mountain is surely where it ends.

Sea level. Zero feet. Beginning. The sea has no memory. Look at the waves. There is no such thing as an old wave. The sea is pure youth. Life. Future. It is only potential. The sea beckoned early explorers, businessmen mostly, with its promise of potential. Riches. Land. What could lie beyond the horizon? Nothing, perhaps. Or everything. The possibility drove hopers and dreamers into foaming fits and they threw themselves dreaming into the ocean, anchors aweigh. The sea, for them, was a chance for something more. To pilgrims, crossing the sea unburdened them of the past and began life anew. The sea affirms and embraces living, chance, hope and life.

A mountain is the end of potential. The peak of a mountain, as it continuously disappears into the sky, indicates the exact point where the earth´s attempt to escape back into the darkness of space is rebuffed by time, weather and gravity.  The peak of a mountain is a terminal. The mountain itself surges, buckles and thrusts upwards, proud, majestic, imposing, fearsome…and ultimately concludes in a tiny, useless patch of rock. Lifeless. Barren. A mountain is hopelessness. A mountain is the opposite of life. A mountain is death. The men and women who throw themselves at a mountain are hoping for nothing. They know there is nothing up there. There is no escape to a better life. Once the summit has been reached, there is no other option but retreat. To retrocede. There is no progress. Null. Enormous physical strain to arrive exactly at the point of departure. No ground gained.  A voyage to the top of a mountain is absurdity.

"How long do you think this is going to take?"
"I´m hoping for 30 hours."
"Yeah, me too. Somewhere around there. Have you run 100 miles before?"
"No. First time. You?"
"Same."

I can´t do it. I can´t cross this river again. The water is too cold. No no. It´s ok. It doesn´t hurt at first. It almost feels good. My feet are so sore, so tired. The clear, cold water mujst surely be therapeutic. It looks beautiful. The water is beautiful to look at. But then, it´s so cold. I cross to the bank. Here it comes. Tick tock. A few seconds go by and the true teeth of this cold river begin to chew into the pulverized flesh of my feet. The pain makes me breath harder. Panting. Blinking my eyes. Real tears. Jesus. God. This hurts so much. I can barely walk. I´m weaving. That water is so clear. It´s really something. I should take a picture of the water. No, no. Too much time. God, my God, please make my feet stop hurting. It´s ok. The trail is going away from the river. No more crossing. Good. I can´t. I can´t cross this river again. The pain is too much. I don´t want to do it. I can´t. Here´s a course marker. Ok, we´re going down. Here it is. The river. The markers stop. Ah, yes. On the other side. Of course. We have to cross to the other side. We must. We always had to cross. The river has always been here. We are here. Across we go. The water is so clear. So beautiful. Oh, God. OhmyGodmyfeet.

"What time is it?"
"Now?"
"Yes, what time is it now?"
"It´s 3 in the morning."
"We should tell jokes. This is the time for jokes."
"I don´t know any jokes in Spanish."
 "Ok. I´m going to stop here and fill my bottle."
"Yeah. That´s fine."
"Just a little bit more water."
"Yeah. Hey?"
"Yeah?"
"This sport...is ridiculous."

Just against this tree. Just for a moment. The tree is so alive and so healthy. I´m going to put my hands on this tree and then put my head against my hands and I´m going to feel this tree and close my eyes and rest. Just for a moment. Just a litte rest. It´s nothing. I deserve it. I deserve this tree and this rest.

Nope.

Keep going. Up. Up. I´m just staring at my feet. That´s all this race is. Staring at my feet. It´s so easy. Look at them go! Up! Up! Are they behind me? Those guys were moving better than me. They´re almost here, I´m sure. I´m going so slow. So slow. They´ll be here soon. Patrick. Go. Keep moving. They´re coming right now. You´re doing nothing. What will you do if they pass you? Move. More. Move more. Move now.

"HOW much for a Cocacola?"
"15 pesos."
"Nevermind. I´ve only got 13."
"Ok."
"Ok."
"Wait. 13 is fine."
"Ok. Thank you. I really would like a Cocacola."
"Yes. That´s fine."

Well, thank you rotten God for finally being so kind as to drag the Sun out from Its cave. Did you think I wouldn´t miss it?

Stupid.

Don´t cross Him. Don´t cross anyone. You need all the help you can get, you sad sack. Sad Sack of Shit. Keep walking. Stupid. Unspeakable beauty. The Earth is an impossibly beautiful place. Or is it my eyes? Is my eyes seeing the Earth the beauty? Do I have any cookies left? Ah, yes, here they are. Whew. Better than the last time. These are without a fucking doubt the best goddamn cookies ever gently laid within cellophane, abreast.

Maybe she´ll be around when you finish.

My food bag? Well, sure. Yes, pass it to me. Just what in the hell did I put in there? ...powderized mochachino? I am a stone-cold fucking monster genius of all that is good. This is going right into my bottle and then directly into my stomach. Sun's up! Cookies are fucking on! Coffee! Are we fucking jogging or what?!?

Sun's up. Smoke. A man tending a bonfire...

"Numero?"
"Cuarenta y ocho"
"Dale."
"Cómo vengo?"
"Queda poco. Llegaste sexto acá."
"Cool. Gracias."
"Suerte."
"Jaja, igual."
"Gracias."

Sun´s up. Jesus, these guys are really moving. What the fuck is their deal? Don´t they know the water is fucking freezing? Patrick. Stop. Stop moving. It´s morning. Sun´s up. Time for music. Bitch don´t kill my vibe. Bitch don´t kill my vibe.



Jog on, everybody.

Two come from behind a pile of talus. They move together, in step, heads down. Another approaches, moving up from the valley. The shadows cast by the dawn sun darken all  faces. It could have been that they looked at each other. It could have been that they nodded once, acknowledging. There is very little wind. The summit lies above.

Ok. Let´s wrap up this bullshit. The joke has gone on for too long.

The race was fine. I was surprised that the pain I feel when running 50 mountain miles does NOT actually get worse with more miles. So...yeah, it just hurts the same but for longer. I did some things well. I ate a lot in the first third of the race (in terms of hours). I didn´t drink too much water. The weather was cold and it was unnecessary. I took in a lot of caffeine, but...I love coffee and cocacola, so...

I didn´t eat very much solid food. Quite a few cookies at one point, but that was about it. Honestly, this race was the perfect culmination of everything I´ve been up to over the past year. I didn´t have to plan ahead or worry about too much. I knew what things I could eat and drink. I knew how hard I could push myself. I knew that my legs were very strong and that, barring anything exceptionally stupid, I would do fine.
In terms of being some sort of athlete, I still come up really short. I´d like to change that, but...fuck it.

Training-wise, I was stupid and I took advantage of some nice weather and did a hard, 3-hour run two days before the race. Lifestyle-wise, I was stupid and I decided on a whim to pick up smoking again and went through almost two packs in three days and spent almost NO time sober. I literally drank half a bottle of cheap scotch and 5-6 delicious pints of beer the afternoon/night before the race. I´m not bragging about this in any sense, it´s just the truth. In fact, I´m hoping to not ever do that again...but...fuck it.

Mostly, I´m happy that I had run enough before this race to be able to accurately assess my fitness. I told myself that 30 hours would be reasonable and that it would also likely put me in the top 10 overall. That´s exactly what happened. So, yeah. Fuck it.

In a quick, drunken, post-NYE blast of love-for-everyone, I want to thank the following people in making this race and race report happen:

-Markus Roessel, for convincing me to sign up and for being rad as fuck. One day, I hope I can be him.

-Daniel Rowland, when I was thinking of not running he said "You´ll have fun and learn a lot." An inspiring runner, for me and a great buddy. He and V. are two of the most sound people I´ve met!

-Jesse Scott, a fellow Michigander, superb ultrarunner and a dude I don´t really know, but who also ran his first two 100´s this year and whose blog gave me an extra kick in the ass when it was needed.

-Lucho. I don´t know this guy either, but his voice is often in my head and it tells me to stop being such a pussy. I wish I had a tenth of his common sense and discipline.

-Dave Roche. The fact that he even types blog messages to me makes my heart skip a beat and my, um, hands get sweaty. Yeah. Hands.

-Quim Torné, my friend from Spain who I met here in bumfuck, hillbilly Chile by chance while jogging trails (the only two trail runners in a city of 250,000). He showed me how to run downhills and also consistently killed me in running uphills. Everyone should be so lucky to have a training partner like him. I owe him immensely.

-JB. For making me feel like a natural woman.

-Every blog writer that I read. I can´t tell you how pathetically I immersed myself in the running blog culture. It has really helped me become a total fucking nerd with no life outside of jogging. Thank you, you bastards. In particular, thank you to Brownie and GZ. One day, I´ll come out there to Colorado and buy you both some beers. Especially after my poor showing on the 100 beers challenge. Shameful.

Holy shit. All this for 5th place! What an asshole! Goodbye!

{the preceding race report was written over the past several weeks, in a cabin, on a porch, in several bus stations and under the influence of extreme sleep deprivation, humongous amounts of alcohol, sleeping pills and the several tabs of acid I did on Christmas (hence the mountain/death, sea/life paragraphs), yes, it should better all things considered, but...fuck it.}





6 comments:

J. said...

I forced myself to read this even more slowly than I already read, because I didn't want it to end.

Some gorgeous writing here, Pat. I even skipped over Kendrick until the last paragraphs because I couldn't justify filling my ears with it. It ends with a quiet milieu of "fuck its" and cookie worship. It also ends with a voice I've grown to love over the years. Miss you.

GZ said...

You had me at you buying me and Brownie beers. Wait, that was like the second to last paragraph. Ah, fuck it.

Impressed. Beers are on me.

RUNssel said...

Reading with tears in my eyes, Soaking in the memory of a life gone by, Dancing with tears in my eyes, Living out a memory of a love that never dies.

Blog Post of the year - Period!

Daniel said...

Congratulations Pat - an awesome race and equally fantastic race report. I enjoyed hearing all about the race during our run a few weeks ago and I'm really pleased you decided to stay in the race and get the 100 under your belt. Champion!

Max Keith said...

epico weon. llegue un poco tarde a esto. pero me alegro de haberlo leido. creo ser una peor persona ahora.

P. said...

max, si quieres crecer...como hombre y como corredor, hay que dejar de leer este blog. jajja! que nos veamos en abril para "La Ruta Descabezada!" saludos desde la septima!