Thursday, October 30, 2008

Get ready everyone.. This is just the beginning

Today, I listened to my saved messages on my phone. I needed friendly supportive voices. 2 were very old. The first week in July, in fact. Others pretty recent. All of them made me cry-- even one from my physician.

"Hey Sophia, I'm putting in the prescription for that inhaler for you, because you're probably training for some ridiculous distance."

Yup. The Rock Creek 50k at Lake Perry. And life.

Superhero Mudbabe Debbie Webster spent the night. She had fun with my balloon pump, and we had a great dinner. Salmon, whole wheat pasta, and lightly sautéed red peppers.

She’s adventurous and even sucked down the raw vegan smoothie for breakfast.

I was a little disappointed because I hadn’t gotten my lucky number 49. I work for 49 news and like that number. Instead Jim M, had it. Offered to sell it to me for 50 bucks, but considering the economy, I figured it would be best to save the cash.

I won the women's division. But I feel sad.

For the second week, I was the female frontrunner. That can mean running with the back of the male frontrunners. But not always.

I started out with them. Then I got a rock in my shoe at mile two. I caught up with them by mile 3, but felt cruddy for running fast at the beginning of the race. My head was spinning. All the while I was trying to catch up, I kept worrying I was getting lost. I had to find them. Once I got back with the group of 3, another guy popped up.

"Hey did anyone lose their gloves?"
ugh. I'd purposefully tossed them because I was tired of carrying them.

Then there seemed to be some sort of guy testosterone, push the pace thing going on. I don't know, it could have been my imagination. I have a beautiful imagination, but sometimes it misfires. This was one of those times.

More anxiety. My thoughts were going to all these crazy places, and I needed to regroup.

I took a step back. And went to my happy place. Zen running. A seed in a pot, that gows into a flower, and gives off oxygen.

I ran alone.

Steady, strong, calm and at peace. Me and the woods... no music, just the rustling sounds of leaves, and the water. I love to run by the water. Mile 21 I was bubbling with happiness . I thought, "ten more.. no problem. This is fun."

The path seem warm and enveloping. And out of the corner of my eye-- I saw a sparkle. Could it be fairy dust? I thought so, but in this race I had enough power on my own.

I ate dates... lots of dates, when I needed to eat. I took salt when I needed to take salt. I drank a lot of Mountain Dew at the aid stations, my only human contact. Not once for the rest of the race did I feel like I just wanted it to be over. I seemed to be firmly in first place for the women, and I thought about the new shoes I'd get.

While running, I didn't feel abandoned. I've talked to others who ran or stopped running this same race. Some feel they were left by their friends. All who ended up with a running buddy were elated and inspired by the company. I, was neither of these. However, I did appreciate the encouragement and understanding from Rick Mayo at the half. There is just something different and unbeatable about the help you get from someone who knows the sport. Thank you Rick.

But out in the woods, I was a self sufficient, ultra machine. In the end, I came in just a minute behind Jim M who had ultra-company and support most of the way.

So somehow with only 2 other ultras under my belt, I managed to chop an hour and a half off my psycho psummer time. All alone. I didn't get lost. Not even a little.

Caleb ran such an incredibly fast time of 4:14, that my 5:48 winning time for the females didn't get much notice. During the awards ceremony, I was sitting by Pat Perry and told him how excited I was about the big trophy I was getting. Later I realized it wasn't mine, instead was for the series winner, so I gave it back. There wasn't even a picture of me with it. Maybe that's why I'm sad.

Maybe it's because I ended up running alone the same pace as the little group ahead of me. They were probably only a minute ahead for most of the second half of the race. But you can't tell in the woods.

Afterwards Jim M, kind of smugly said I couldn't have caught up the 4 minutes where they had gotten ahead, and that they were probably 10 ahead of me at one point. Nope. You weren't. I was just 2 or 3 behind at the half. And I was strong the last 5, just didn't plow through them because I thought your group was running a lot faster than you were. And let's face it Jim, you were wearing my lucky number, 49.

But I was at peace.. even stopped at mile 28 to paint a muddy heart on my arm. I call it mudsterbation. Usually my friends and I paint each other-- but this time, as in my life currently, I was taking care of myself emotionally and physically, and superficially.

I had sent an email to Pat Perry, letting him know I’d given back the trophy. By that time, I’d come to peace with it. Explaining, accomplishment is internal—and that that is something no one can take away. He sent me an email back saying I should have fought Them for it.

While I am sad, I don't care what anybody thinks-- I'm in this race-- and whether anyone notices or not... I'm winning. Selfish? Self centered? How about survivor. Courageous. Sure it would be nice to have a pacer. But it's even nicer to know you can do it alone, like the seasoned warriors.

While many are scared to death, judgemental and hostile about my strength and attitude, the people who matter most to me are proud.

A funny thing happened... I stopped in at work on Friday. That Sophie-trophy was on my desk plus a new special message on my phone. Plus Willie called.. he says I can always be number 49 in his races.

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