I’ve been unemployed going on 6 months now, I’ve battled with depression, and I’ve watched humanity grow to embrace hatred while rejecting compassion and empathy. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know when I say that this has been a rough year.
Movement has been my saving grace during this time. Honestly, movement has probably been my saving grace since I was a kid. Growing up I had team sports that allowed me to vent my frustrations, but that outlet disappeared with the end of my collegiate rugby career. Since I graduated college, running has become my solace and this year I’ve run more than ever.
I started taking my running serious towards the end of last year. I had hired a coach and started setting my sights on competing in races instead of just participating in them. I was stoked to race Badwater Salton Sea 81 miler. I was crushing my training, and had just raced a 50k and PR’d by over 45 minutes. I told my teammate John and our crew captain Pam that I wanted us to aim for a top 5 finish. Not long after that, races started getting canceled due to Covid.
Suddenly I had nothing to train for, and the motivational wind was gone from my sails. The longer I went without running, the more I felt drawn to my couch or bed. I withdrew from my friends, from my partner Emily, and from myself. I would set out for a long run and mentally check out before quitting after a few miles.
Fortunately, I have friends who can be almost as stubborn as myself. They continued to invite me out on runs and encouraged me to rediscover movement. Little by little, my activity level increased. Right around the same time I started reading Running with Sherman by Christopher McDougall. Sherman is a donkey that inspired me to get off my ass. (pun intended!)
After finishing that book, I read The Rise of the Ultra Runners by Adharanand Finn. Again I was inspired to keep my legs moving, but I also felt an itch to do more than just run. That’s when I reached out to Pam and told her I wanted to run another ultra. Her response? “I love that. When and where?” When I told her I hadn’t thought that far ahead yet, she told me I had until Sunday to make a decision. This was on a Wednesday. I called her back the next day and when she answered all I said was “last 100k of Badwater 135, thoughts?” Pam’s excitement came through the speaker, “fuck yea! Let’s do this.”
We set a date for September 20th and my excitement increases by the day. 100k will be double my longest distance yet. Current predicted temperatures for that weekend are high 90s to low 100s. This may not be an official race, but it is a personal race. The only thing I won’t get when I finish is a belt buckle. I feel like a kid again waiting for the last day of school before summer vacation starts. This is going to be AWESOME!