“Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense. The ultra runners know this instinctively. And they know something else that is lost on the sedentary. They understand, perhaps better than anyone, that the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort. In running such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of their being — a call that asks who they are …”
– David Blaikie

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rising from the Ashes..

Running Hope Across America: PHOENIX
June 8, 2010

PHOENIX: |ˈfēniks| |ˈfinɪks| |ˈfiːnɪks|
(in classical mythology) a unique bird that lived for five or six centuries in the Arabian desert, after this time burning itself on a funeral
pyre and rising from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle.
• a person or thing regarded as uniquely remarkable in some respect.

On June 8, 2010, Lisa Smith-Batchen, a world class ultra endurance athlete, was scheduled to run 50 miles in Phoenix, Arizona. This, of course, after running 2000 miles in other states. She will be the first person to ever run 50 miles, in 50 states, in 62 days. Amazing is an understatement.

I had been following her progress and was really excited about her running in Phoenix. I knew it would be hotter than hell, and probably THE MOST unbearable heat she has seen on this excursion across the United States. (It was). She runs to raise money for AIDS Orphans. I have heard her speak about the charity, and it is a heart-wrenching reality that I never knew about until the Keys 100 mile run last May. Sister Mary Beth Lloyd, a nun from the Filipini Order, works directly for and with these children. She also has been running 20 miles per day with Lisa. Oh, and she runs in full nun habit! I was anxious to run amongst these incredible women.

I must say that I have not run outdoors since March of this year. David and I joined a great gym and I ran on the treadmill, which gave me the inspiration for my 24 hour run this fall. For my 100 miler last year, I completely OVERtrained, and I knew this time that I needed to do much more weight training. So, I ran on the treadmill a few times a week, usually 3-13 miles each time, not really pushing it. I continued to take different conditioning group fitness classes almost every day. My diet changed drastically since my last ultra. I gave up meat.

As June 8th approached, I had it in my mind that I would do the 50 miles. Why not? In my (messed-up-crazy-sometimes-irrational-falsely-invincible) brain I thought it wouldn't be a big deal! It was just half of my max. race mileage! No biggie!

At 4:00AM in the morning of June 8th, after less than 4 hours of sleep, I was out the door and psyched to be driving to a running event. I felt like I was going to see an old friend that I have not seen in a very long time. Over the last few months, I have maintained a long distance relationship with running....maybe in a literal sense! Absence made my heart grow fonder, and my legs antsy. I have had the "shakes" from the lack of endorphins that come with running. I am no sports scientist, but I truly believe there is a special kind of hormone that is secreted in the bloodstream in runners....just runners. No one else seems to "get it". It is an out of body experience, yet, you are so in tuned with your body at the same time. On my way to the run, I was already in that mindset. I was excited, did I mention that?

4:45M: I arrived much earlier than I thought I would. I reached the Nesbitt Park parking lot. It was still really dark, and I realized that I need to go to an optometrist to get my eyes checked because I really had a rough time trying to see in the dark! Damn, I am getting old. I sat in my car and looked all around to see if I could spot the "Run Hope Across America" RV. Nothing. I did see a few cars and some lights on way across the park's soccer fields. I drove around some neighborhoods to try and find out where those cars and lights were...maybe THAT is where we supposed to meet? I got to the lights and cars that I saw and realized it was only a garage light on with 2 cars in the garage and 3 cars crammed together on the driveway. So, I turned around and went back to the park.

5:05AM: A black BMW parked a few spaces from my car. We were the only cars in the parking lot at this point. I rolled down my window and asked the driver if he was here for the RHAA run. He smiled and nodded. Another man got out of the car and they walked over to the restrooms. The sun was up already at this point(yes, the sun comes up REALLY early in Arizona). I decided to get all my stuff ready in the back of the trunk. Still no RV.

The two men came over and introduced themselves as Cat (like the pet) and Jay. Jay's a seasoned runner...he runs half marathons and trails. Cat just started running a few months ago from what I understand. He had surgery and was in bed for a while and Jay gave him the book, Ultramarathon Man (by Dean Karnazes). From that moment, he was inspired. I love hearing stories like that! So, we were all chatting and waiting for the RV to show up.

5:20AM: A guy in an SUV with Triathlon stickers on the back window showed up. He was rustling around, getting all his gear together. He introduced himself, Eric (who would become a great running partner for me that day). We exchanged stories of runs, triathlons, and inspiration while nervously checking the clock to see what time it was. At 5:45AM, we were all trying to figure out what had happened. Cat looked on his phone to see if anything on the website had changed. No changes. The worst began to enter my own mind. What if Lisa's foot is too hurt to continue? What if the RV broke down? I couldn't fathom what would step in the way of this amazing woman's journey. There HAD to be some sort of explanation.

6:00AM: The four of us began to run.

To be continued...


mean mom productions said...

OMG...sounds like fun!! Glad you made it!

Joede said...

I can't find the rest of the story??? It is like reaching the climax of the movie and they say..the rest will come out in 6 months... Tell me it is here somewhere :)