Monday, March 28, 2011
I want to add a few things though before I forget in the haze of recovery and training for new races. First of all, even though this was not my first 50K it felt just as special because I was able to cross the finish with such special people. (Schmoopy, I know.) At the race last fall, I ran by myself and although it felt particularly badass to be able to do so, this was a totally different experience. I was a little afraid that Rochelle in particular would hate me for talking her into doing such a crazy thing so I was thrilled that she had such a great race and actually wants to do MORE. Getting to spend the previous evening with Ro, Krista, Marty and Annie acting like total dorks was awesome. I love love love these people. And Amy K. with her cowbells driving up and down Lake Shore Drive with Anne was the icing on the cake. Nobody else out there had the kind of support we had.
I love the vibe of ultras because there's not the grandeur and the stress/pressure of marathons. (Of course, there's a place for them as well but I *get* why people are easily hooked on the ultra distance.) We took our time, made leisurely stops at 5 mile aid stations and really enjoyed ourselves- as much as we could under the brutal wind conditions! The stretches of the course that were wind-free were like heaven and we would literally let out sighs of relief. Because of the wind, I was worried a bit about my plan to get to the final turnaround (about 26 miles) without feeling like I was going to die. However, I think because we took those breaks it really evened out the added difficulty of the wind. Last fall, I finished ten minutes quicker- really only because I took much shorter breaks at the aid stations- not because I was running faster- but at the end of this race I actually felt STRONG. In the previous race I got slower and slower with each mile at the end while this time we actually had our last two miles the fastest. Sure, those last two miles hurt like hell (I remember saying: OH MY GOD. THERE'S THE FINISH. OH MY GOD) but it felt less like a death march and more like we were a Wall of Awesome.
I can't wait to do it again, and again, and again.
Monday, March 21, 2011
I've always been a mover. For many years, dance was a huge part of my life. I attended a performing arts school growing up and majored in dance in college. But while I was a natural performer, the draw of dance wasn't about having everyone's eyes on me onstage. What I liked was being able to lose myself in the movement. Pushing my body to do things I'd never done before gave me a thrill and I loved to take on the different characters and moods that being a dancer provided. I've always been a fairly shy person, but dancing gave me the opportunity to literally put all my feelings into motion without having to say a word.
There's a moment when you're learning a piece of choreography where suddenly everything clicks and all the gestures and phrases start to flow together. You don't even have to think about what the steps are anymore because the movements seem to rush out of your body. One moment you're sweating away in class trying to connect your mind with what your teacher is instructing you to do and the next minute something locks into place and all that matters is the music, your breath and the rhythm of your body.
It's a difficult feeling to describe and one that I seem to always be chasing now that dance doesn't play such a large role in my everyday life. What I have found though is that one thing that can measure up is the feeling I get while running. While the sensation of running is different, being a repetitive motion rather than a sequence of complex ones, there's still that same moment where a feeling of calm settles over your mind and you feel at one with all the mechanics of your body working together to propel you through space. The simple act of filling your lungs with air and breathing in and out can feel like a revelation. Not to say that I achieve this state of mind on every run (I didn't in every dance class either), but the possibility is always there. When I lace up my shoes in the morning I always wonder if this will be the day I reach that high again and get to glide across the earth like a gazelle. Some days it will even surprise me. I may be several miles into a so-so run when a switch flips and suddenly I'm floating like a leaf on the wind. It's moments like these where all that time spent chasing becomes worth it.
Movement is a wonder, whatever form it comes in. What's your favorite?
*Photo by gravity_grave.