This is part 2 of a series titled: The Journey Back to Ultra. These writings have been kept in their first draft form to enable more authentic conversation.
I write this, reaching over my potbelly, sipping on a Diet Coke—my third this morning. They, my friends and family, coworkers, and internet readers ask “Why so far?” and “Isn’t that going to injure you?”. The answer isn’t pleasant. I don’t spit on their shoes about it but I try to explain, albeit awkwardly, that I don’t have any other choice. But that’s not true, they remind me. I could just not run at all. I consider it most of the time, after they cajole me to. But, I want to lose weight and lower my blood sugar. I want the challenge and adventure of training. I also miss having all my toenails..
Some call ultra-running a drug. Ice cream is a drug. Coca-Cola is a drug, too. Ibuprofen is a drug. They all get served at legitimate races as well. This drug, the one concerning running off into the woods or down the road for whole days at a time, it soothes my soul. It may wreck my body, tear a hole into my wallet, and cause my kids to wonder if I’ve died since they last saw me, but it also brings a peace to my inner thinking, if only during the time I spend out there puking into the bushes and going fertile position in people’s driveways.
I guess I could take up drinking. I could even pair that with heavy marijuana use, but then I would have no reason to buy cool shoes. Also, who wants to read a blog about getting high and sloppy drunk while playing Fortnite on the xbox? Actually, that might be my backup plan if this ultramarathon thing doesn’t work out.
I’m eyeballing the Red Rock Canyon 50k for next November, 2022.
There I said it.
As for an ROI on all this running, the health benefits probably even out in the wash., as they say. I might lose weight, but I also will lose toenails. I might cut the sugar down, but break my leg coming down a mountain. I might gain clarity on the meaning of life, but my kids might impregnate the neighborhood while I’m off finding myself. On the Pinhoti Trail.
As for 5k’s, I can do some on the way. 10ks are cool too. But these micro-doses just won’t get me out of bed. These short gatherings of skinny boys in short running shorts are too short for my desire for something more than my short attention span can run from.
My pain didn’t decrease until mile 23 in my last race. I needed those that came before to soothe my mind, numb my feet, and force all the thoughts of the outside world to shut up for a little while, while I lived in the movement.
That is the beauty of the ultra, it’s just too much to think about all the other happenings in your life while the rocks under feet assault your bunions, and the tree limbs and the rain distract you from the normal conversation between your mind and yourself about how much of a piece of shit you were growing up. It’s my brain’s favorite topic.
So, I journey back into the forest, meander along the lonely highways, running from my past, seeing what I can accomplish with my future, explaining to someone why I screamed at their dog or worse, puked on the thing.