My First “Solo” Ultra Marathon

4 Oct

I ran an ultra-marathon without you. Without both of you.  Well, a relay race one.  I ran it and I had fun but there were no peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made by you and there were no nicknames granted by you and there were no inside jokes that

always,
always,
always,

made fun of me.   And I made friends on the relay and I worked so hard to not think about you.  To not think about either of you.  To not think about the fact that I can’t share my success with you.  That I can’t thank you for my success.  That the people I know don’t know you, that the people I meet won’t know you, that the part you played in my life is over.

I regret that you only ever knew one side of me: the spandex, swim cap, tri aero bars, race gear, sweaty, messy, competitive, sarcastic, early morning side of me.  That my attempt to keep work and personal and athletic separate meant you never met the people who matter to me, the places I frequent, my daily routine.

In December, I put on a stunning dress (you never saw me in a dress) and met your family and sat in a hospital and read Christmas books to sick kids.  For you, I did it.  Because I needed to do something tangible.  But you wouldn’t have recognized me without the mud and the sweat and the tears of frustration.

And in February, I went to Philadelphia for you.  I sat on a plane and I don’t remember taking off. I don’t remember landing. I remember trying to ask for water and the word stuck in my throat and I knew we were running 18 miles when I arrived and I knew I needed water but it was

too much,
too hard,
too final

to ask for it.  And I met your family. And realized that I didn’t know the you that they knew. And they didn’t know the ever strong, always teasing, incessantly pushing you that I knew.

And I vowed to never run another ultra.

But I did. And

I think,
I hope,
I trust

that you would have been happy for me.  I ran without you and it was hard.  It was hard.  To run. Without you. But I did it. And I don’t feel stronger or wiser or tougher because of it. But I do feel a little more healed, a little more ready to remember you both – not as a rock climbing casualty, and not tucked away under Philly soil – but as my ultra-companions, my ultra-coaches, my ultra-competitors.

I ran.  Without you. But you were kinda there.

 

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