It’s been almost two weeks since I completed my first ultramarathon. It was a 50 mile trail run in New Hampshire at Bear Brook State Park. I have been trying to write about it since I crossed the finished line – no – I have been trying to write about it since mile 57. We got lost along the way and ended up running 100k, but at that distance, there is no difference in mileage. At some point, I couldn’t tell my skin, from my breath, from my feet, from the earth. I existed like something suspended in time.
Six of us ran the first marathon, but only three of us went out for the second. I remember eating part of a watermelon after the first marathon and it tasted like life itself. I swear, fruit has never tasted this way. For ten hours I wasn’t somebody’s son, friend, boyfriend, employee, or whatever role I seem to have taken on in this life. I was myself, I think, in my true form. Covered in dirt & sweat carrying no pretension or expectations for life, but to live.
I remember the last hill we climbed, Nick, Max, and myself. It was within the last two miles. I remember hating it. I remember how angry I was at the roots, the rocks, and how human it all made me, like an ant throwing myself against a mountain. When we reached the top Max said something like, we are so lucky to be doing this. A funny thing to say after climbing the last giant hill of a race, but he was right. Our physical ability to participate in this activity, the idea that we had enough money & time to spend on such an event, and the blessing of having four good friends to embark upon this journey with together.
When I got back to the city I felt different. I felt as though somewhere on the trail it all changed me. I still haven’t been able to discover what has changed, but I know whatever it was it will never go back to the way it was before. That’s how change happens. You never know you are changing until you encounter people who talk to you as if you are your old self. After recounting the story to friends I realized how empty it all sounded. Running, to them, is not a spirituality, a religion, or a lifestyle.
Most people said I was crazy and some even thought that I would never to complete this task, but I did. I will again. There are so many people who tell us we can’t these days. I hope we haven’t forgotten how to tell ourselves we can. I think there are beautiful people waiting to become something, not realizing that they have been something all along.
Yesterday, I now know, that I was so afraid I wouldn’t become something.
Today, I am.