Relentless Forward Progress at Nanny Goat – May 2013

Relentless Forward Progress

This month has been challenging and amazing. I had the opportunity to run two completely different and unique race events in the month of May. I also took the time to contemplate life lessons, its ups and downs and how it all relates back to distance running. In April I was invited to run the Badwater Salton Sea race as a 3-person team. The course runs from the Salton Sea California to Palomar Mountain. My race report is below. It was a rugged 81-mile distance with difficult weather conditions and a tough go at the end. It was a team event with a totally different set of challenges.

This weekend I went to the Nanny Goat 12 hr/24/hr/100 mile race. I had originally registered to run the 100 mile before the Salton Sea 81 mile popped onto to my schedule unexpectantly. So, when I arrived at Riverside to run Nanny Goat I decided to go with an open mind. The plan was to start for the 100 and see where my head and heart (and feet!) took me.

It had been a challenging month at home. I could name all the things that cropped up this month that some would consider setbacks and others consider lessons. They weren’t any different then similar challenges everyone faces. Life throws out all her glorious demanding tests and trials and we are meant to work through them the best that we can manage.

At first, I wondered if I should go to the race with all the work I had to do at home. I had registered for it so long ago. I felt tired and sluggish from all the everyday decisions making. I was feeling overwhelmed, unsettled and questioning everything from the mundane to my life’s master goals.

Bill encouraged me to go even if it was just for the ride.  He reminded me, it’s one aid station at a time, in life and in a race.
So, I decided to take the plunge and head out. Bill drove and I sat like a zombie, my mind swirling, thinking about all the things I should be working on, feeling tired, feeling uninspired, lacking motivation.

I got to the race late, later than I liked for preparing for a 100, or whatever it was that I was doing. I don’t even remember packing my bags or preparing…I just showed up with a swirling mind of fog. When we arrived at the race and stepped out of the car we were met by Steve Harvey, race director, (adorable man!) He immediately made us feel welcome and he was excited that we were joining his party.

I saw my dear friends, Ed (The Jester) Ettinghausen and Famous Ray Sanchez (who I have run with in the Himalayas and New Zealand). There were lots of veteran runners looking to test their speed and endurance. There were also a lot of new faces too. Bill and I shared a horse stall turned into an aid station with 4 women who had never attempted an ultra. You couldn’t help but pick up on their high energy.

I started gingerly down that dusty trail at Nanny Goat race, next to horse corrals with Arabian horses, along shady orange tree-laden paths. My mind once preoccupied and cluttered was taking in the positive energy and good will of nature and the people and runners around me. The course is one shady mile loop circling a huge, gorgeous ranch in Riverside, California. I had no idea that Riverside was so beautiful. Bill blasted along the course lapping me, totally enjoying the race and setting a great time for himself.

I started off fast. I needed to blow off some steam. I recognized many runners and settled into my pace waving and chatting to my fellow competitors. A couple miles into the race I realized the decision to run was a good one, a healthy one and I let my mind drift and settle into the peaceful miles of the loop course.

It was interesting that my mind didn’t ponder on problem solving. Instead it took in the sights and sounds of nature. It regrouped in the rhythm of my movements and steady pace of my stride. I took deep breaths and felt thankful…thankful that I am a runner…thankful for all my blessings including the challenges that came before me. I know with any struggle you are given the chance to rise above it, to prove yourself. Just like running. When you are exhausted and feel that you can’t go any further you learn through endurance running that you can indeed, go further then you imagine. It is a mind-set and it is an obstacle that can be overcome. Take the next step, move to the next aid station. You are tired? That’s okay…it’s all part of the experience. It’s time to push into that part of you that no one can overcome. When I tap into that place, deep inside me, I know there isn’t anything I can’t do.

10 loops into the race a woman on the side of the path held up a sign:
Dear Stranger, you inspire me….
She was quietly crying and had a big smile at the same time. The message hit me hard and I was seriously humbled. She had watched all the runners running next to the ranch and scrawled the note to let us know her thoughts.

My mind quieted…my thoughts calmed. The steady rhythm of my footfalls cleared the fog in my head. I found peace and clarity at a ranch in Riverside. For 49.5 miles I let my mind find its peace and my heart retrieve her excitement and joy for life. The last 2 miles I ran the hardest I have ever run at the end of an ultra. A full-blown blast of energy and exhilaration. After 12 hours of running I was satisfied and ready to get back into the world. I arrived at the finish line and received my medal and swag from Steve Harvey. I stayed on to clap and cheer for my fellow runners who were all participating for their own individual reason and purpose.

Running settled this runner’s heart and mind. Nature cures and running/walking/moving through space on Mother Earth’s paths, brought balance and joy back into my heart. I’m once again traveling on my life’s path with my feet firmly on the ground in the direction I need to go.
Ultra running’s true mantra…
Relentless Forward Progress and I add; peace, happiness and pure joy, one step at a time.

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