It’s taken me a while to process this race. My first ever 50-miler was everything I love about trail races-intensified. I had never been at a starting line so early before, and there was something very exciting about milling around in the dark. The finish line and tents were lit up, everyone had their headlamps on, even the moths seemed excited buzzing aound the lights.
The course was beautiful. And because we had such a distance to cover, there was so much scenery. Sunrise over the river, early morning in the forest, bright, blue mid-day along the cliffs of the Potomac River.
The connection and camaraderie with fellow runners was deeper. We were out there for a l-o-o-n-n-n-g time. We needed each other’s conversation, each other’s jokes and stories and encouragement. And we enjoyed each other. It’s as though friendships are jump started. There is already so much we don’t have to explain, because here we all are running 50 miles through the woods. There’s the instant connection, the immediate compatability, and boom, you’re friends! At some point we each have our own suffering to do, but for many miles and many hours my new friends were such fun!
The balance of fierce concentration with losing myself in the moment, the elation of an aid station coming into view, the gutting it out up yet another hill. I love all of that, and it was all so much….MORE.
The short story of my race is, I had a great 30 miles, an ok 10 more, and then fell apart and barely crawled into the aid station at mile 46, severely dehydrated. I am trying to reconcile in my head the disappointment of not finishing, with the reality that I did my best, I could not go on.
I hate that I didn’t finish, and it makes it hard for me to relish all the good parts of the day. I’m not ready to say I’ll make another attempt, BUT, when I think back on the friends I made that day, friends I may never see again, but who are still important to me, I want to be with them again! Out there, all day, on the trail, with the people who understand. The people who KNOW ME.