Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Hard(rock 100) to Grasp
I had so much fun blogging a couple of weeks ago in the aftermath of Western States, and really wanted to maintain some consistency in posting some of my neurotic thoughts on so many things sport. I've started 84 different posts in my head only to fail to get to the keyboard. But seriously, I've been slammed at work. Grateful am I!
My latest excuse for waiting to post is actually a good one: I wanted to wait until a friend of mine finished Hardrock 100. There was a lot of build-up to this race, at least in the small virtual space where I sometimes loiter on blogger and twitter. The Matt Harts, Karl Meltzers, Dakota Smiths and Irunfars of the world were making their ways to Silverton. Of course, Tim was on his way having gotten into the race officially at the llth hour, as were Sir Clark and Mr. Jamie, Joe Grant, another Solomon sponsored euro, Julien Chorier (who'd been touted during WS100 and else where), as well as a whole host of other runners and fans (I have virtually no familiarization with the women other than Darcy Africa and Diana Finkel appeared to be racing mano a mano for the win).
So, granted, there was certainly some buzz, but I was by far most interested in how Footfeathers would fair. I got to see and kinda feel some of his pain at the end of the SD100 about a month ago. He talked in his race report about how he'd definitely been running and ultra racing consistently leading-up to this race in the San Juan Mountains. He wasn't going-in that brand-spankin new; he's been living and breathing trail ultra (read some of his interviews), legitimately. Or so it seemed.
Definitely read his race report, all of it. The best word I can come-up with now is "troubling" (I say courageous, brave, resilient, and ballsy too; but this 2011 Hardrock sounds downright dark, especially from my friend's perspective).
I started digging the trail back in 2008. I found the Lucho/GZ tribe and have been pretty dialed-in ever since. I started with 25k southern Cali trail races with ~3k vert and lovely views of the Pacific or Vegas and that was about as much as I felt like going. I trained with some ultra folk, did some big training runs in the Lagunas of San Diego county, but had not and still have not toed the line for a 50k or up (which is all going to change, I promise).
But my point is that despite wanting at some point to run an ultra marathon, I thought the 100 mile distance was foolhardy. I felt like the distance invited too much potential for genuine trouble. Sure, some elites might have a go and let her rip for ~20 hours, but the mid to rear packer had no reason to be there creeping so close to that edge. "You want to do 100 miles (or 135 from valley to mountain top)? Fine. But take a tent and some camping gear."
And the cherry on top was a picture I saw on one guy's blog, capturing one of the "highlights" of his travels during Badwater, I believe, where he's laid-out in a chair at an aid station, both feet in the air like he's giving birth, with two crew members attending to his feet/socks/shoes, and another handful milling about with various gear and refreshment. In my own naviete, ignorance (yet competitive soul) I thought this is pathetic. The dire condition. The dependence upon all of these friends and volunteers. Wow. Not for me.
I have changed somewhat. The blogging has kept that possibility alive, of my own pilgrimage to run something really big. And helping (in whatever slight way I could) Tim at SD100 definitely got me thinking. I'm going to run 50k and 50mi and there's an outside chance I try a 100, especially the one in my own backyard.
But then there's a race report like Tim's. It's tough to reconcile. I know these trials and tribulations define us, create us. We grow through and because of them. Admittedly, I think this race is different. Hardrock seems otherworldly, brutally harsh. Troubling. I haven't talked to Tim other than a couple of texts and a comment on his blog. I'm confused.
My gut says no way was that worth it. The breathing problems, the danger on some of the passes, especially the one on which "Chris" totally saved his phucking life. I'm blown away by the recklessness of it. The rapids, the lightning. The wet feet.
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I firmly believe that. But I doubted it for a second while reading Tim's report. Of course, there were many runners certainly who fared worse than he. His report, along with some of the photos made me think of Chris McCandless. Spooky.
I would love to do 100 miles in the San Juans. On a long weekend. With a lot of beer. And a beach chair at my own personal aid station at the end of each day.
God bless Tim and the other survivors. Seriously.
Stay-tuned for more: I'm wondering about a champion's true appeal. And, of course, the euros are coming? Wrong. They already own the place. . .