I’m sitting on a country road in my friend’s Toyota Tundra which currently , and often , smells like stinky running shoes and sweaty clothes. We are around 60 miles into a 223 mile run from Austin to Corpus Christi. No, we aren’t a relay team. My friend is running all of it , just like he ran the entire 203 miles of the Texas Independence Relay.
The first time we did this everything seemed easier . This course is pretty hilly , we started at night in the rain, and there is way more traffic than I expected. We also have no other crew members to help us, unlike last time when we had quite a nice group of pacers and supporters. But also I’m just really struggling with not wanting to be here. I’ve been in a menopausal funk lately that has zapped me of all motivation. I’m still fulfilling my responsibilities at home . I just am content to do little else. This is not me ! I’m usually always on the go or cooking up plans. But I would never let my friend down and he doesn’t know I’d rather be at home doing nothing .
But this is dragging on so slowly! Thankfully the sun came out and it’s not so gloomy , but I hope it doesn’t warm up too much . We started the race at 10:30 last night . You can see the video on Facebook. I did enjoy the first hour or two of running through my old college town. It’s not the same, of course. Austin is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. New skyscrapers are going up everywhere, along with sky high rents. New toll roads and highways are full of cars. But the downtown night life brought back memories of my freshman year. We used to party on the famous 6th street after walking there from campus, then walk back to our dorm.
Okay those first two paragraphs were written yesterday afternoon. Now it’s the next night and I’m at home and the race/run is over. My friend did not finish this time. Things were just not going well and he decided that he didn’t want to run/walk for another 40 hours. The total was going to end up being more like 80 hours instead of the 68 he had planned. The finish line would have been taken down, no hoopla, and possibly no official recognition of his efforts, but we weren’t sure about that. But we did know we’d be finishing sometime after midnight Saturday night. It was just not his day.
I’m happy to report that I did start having more fun with my fellow crew member after I wrote the first paragraphs. But, boy oh boy, I am so glad to be out of the truck! I am so glad to be at home! I am so glad to be here with my husband, kids and dogs. I am so glad to be able to cook dinner and hang out. Last time we did this I was totally into the race, enjoying the journey through country roads and then all the way from one side of Houston to the other, a long way. We were having a good time even though it was difficult at times to keep my friend going and the run lasted about 62 hours. This time we were very much alone, not much to look at along the way, the road was not very good, and I just felt like we weren’t prepared for it all. But every run/race is a learning experience if you pay attention. This time I learned that it is very important to train for the specific conditions you will be running, that one’s diet matters very much, as in, don’t under eat before and during a race, and that you must have very good reasons to run long distances or it will suck. You can’t run to prove your worth to others or to beat others or to win approval. You must prove it to yourself, beat yourself, gain your own approval. And you must be able to dig deep from your own well of motivation, strength and peace because running for hours and hours alone is not for the weak. My friend is definitely not weak. He ran a 100 miler two weeks ago and got a personal best and won the race! But he was physically tired and not sure of his own reasons for doing this race. In the end, it just wasn’t worth it to him to continue to suffer. His knee, feet and back were hurting the whole time. He pulled the plug at 94 miles, got in the truck and went to sleep. When he woke up I asked him if he wanted to continue and finish at least 100 miles but his heart wasn’t in it. It’s okay. A DNF ( did not finish) is not the end of the world! It doesn’t define your value or status as a runner. I really hope my friend will not beat himself up over this. Running is supposed to be a positive force, not a negative one.
So I’m home. I ran 27 total miles with him and my legs are feeling it, but I am thankful for the experience. We had a good time running until it was no longer fun. I took a break while he kept going into the night. He got discouraged by the hills and got in the truck to sleep a bit. When he woke up, the sun was up and we ran some more . We talked and laughed and braved the dogs and traffic . Then he ran alone all through the night down gravel roads with fences on both sides under the full moon until it just got too hard, something like 32 hours. My brain is too tired to do math. We had adventures! I peed behind two campaign signs next to a school along a road with no trees after holding it for an hour waiting to find a hidden spot. We missed our turn once and had to backtrack half a mile. We saw deer, raccoons, cattle, horses and more dogs. Coyotes howled at the moon that was so bright you could see the road without any lights. We may not have finished the course, but we gave it our all, especially him. It was worth it.