It has been 3 weeks since Burning River, and I still have some trouble putting into words what the experience of completing my first 100 miler has meant to me. First and foremost, the support and kind words from everyone who has commented on the blog or email or twittered is simply amazing. I really never thought that my simple challenge to myself would be of enough interest for others to follow along or could be inspiring.
A crew member said to me the other night on a trail run, that I looked all business as I came into aid stations throughout the experience and was I having fun throughout? As the miles ticked by and the day wore on, I found myself even at my lowest point, focused on moving forward and know myself well enough that I was in a groove. Getting into a groove for me is why I get out there day after day. Rhythmically moving your body over the terrain at times makes it feel like an out of body experience. The reflection on my face and general demeanor may seem business like, but inside I was having a blast. I had no other distractions for that day but to run, how much fun is that! If I have said it once, after my family, the thing I love to do the most is to just get out and move forward.
There are lessons to be learned from this experience. First, is that I could complete a 100 miler on a training plan that kept my time away from my family to a minimum. I firmly believe that since this was really a 5 year journey from when I started doing ultras regularly, it allowed me to build a significant base to handle the increased volume and intensity. Secondly, I could not have completed this journey without my crew. Being my virgin attempt at the distance and hitting that low point, I needed their encouragement when I looked like crap and was thinking of quitting, and comraderie on the trails late at night to ride the wave of emotion to get back on track. It is an experience that will bond us forever. Third, I have said numerous times in the podcast or even on the blog that I was an ultrarunner, but really struggled with it to be honest. If I was an ultrarunner, I felt I was on the bottom of a totem pole. That being said, Burning River exposed me to an amazing group of people from all walks of life, shapes and sizes who were there to not only challenge themselves, but to reconnect with others and enjoy their time out there.
So where do I go from here? Perhaps the most important thing I learned about the experience is that no matter the pace, I just want to keep moving forward. There is no better feeling than to walk out your doorstep and just keep putting one foot in front of the other.