Let’s just get the disappointing news out of the way. I dropped from the Wasatch 100 at Big Mountain (mile 39). I won’t go into the details, but lets just say I couldn’t keep any food down. The heat obviously wreaked havoc on my stomach and I couldn’t figure out a way to keep the calories in. Overall it was a frustrating way to have my race and 2013 season end. But in the end, it’s just a race. Wasatch was my focus for the year so it’s particularly rough. I had visions of laying down a fast time and enjoying the company of my pacers Britta and Jon. This day just wasn’t meant to go as planned, and that’s ok. In the midst of an obviously bad day I was able to have some moments of clarity though.
I’ve always tried to convey that I don’t really view running as the “thing” that defines who I am. While I do enjoy it, and spend seemingly excessive amounts of time doing it, I just don’t really view myself as a runner. What I think running does for me is allows an outlet for my mind to wander. Out in the mountains I am able to be free from daily distractions and think about the things that truly matter to me. One topic that almost always comes to mind each and every time I run is my grandfather. He passed away last May and since then there is rarely a run I go on that I don’t have at least one fleeting moment where I think about him. I don’t want to oversell the qualities of this man, but he was truly one of the best people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He was a physician, was on the 1953 Penn State national championship wrestling team, went to seminary school, went on countless mission trips with his church to Africa and Costa Rica while performing medical surgeries for free and even tied all his own flies. If I ever amount to half of the man he was, I would consider my life a success.
Now, back to the race. It was about mile 37 and I was walking and being generally pukie on the way down to Big Mountain and had already resigned to the fact I was going to drop. I was thinking about having to text Britta and Jon to let them know I wouldn’t need them to pace me and was generally feeling sorry for myself. Out of the blue (as it always happens) I began to think about my grandfather. I thought about how much pain he was in the last years of his life and how I didn’t get to see him very often towards the end. We had moved to Knoxville right after graduation and then on to Utah three years later. In the fragile emotional state I was in, I started to cry. Thankfully I had sunglasses on and there was no one around. I began to pray and talk to him like he was walking by my side. I apologized for not being able to see him very much the last few years and let him know that I thought about him every time I was out running. I asked him who he was talking to or debating these days. I’ve always imagined him debating theology with Thomas Aquinas or John Henry Newman. After a few more words our “conversation” and my prayer was over. I was at a sense of peace again and thankful that my moment of running weakness could bring about such a moment of joy for me.
I don’t know why my Wasatch 100 ended the way it did. I do think that everything happens for a specific reason though and without such a terrible stretch of miles, I don’t think the above conversation would have happened. For me,that would have been the biggest disappointment.