time to pretend.

My social media circle is crackling with excitement and fraught with anxiety.

Long hours of training, strategizing, and preparing have led up to race day and now it's time to see what the shaping, reshaping, and honing has wrought.

Friends are excited.  Friends are worried.  Friends are brimming with confidence or drowning in doubt, in some cases brimming with confidence AND drowning in doubt.

I am not brimming, nor am I drowning.  I am strangely calm and nearly numb.

Not because I am supremely confident (I am not) and not because I am particularly sure that I will fail (I don't believe I will).

As my race has approached, I have told myself that I am excited and asked myself if I'm ready to go or worried about the outcome and, honestly, I haven’t gotten much confirmation that I am excited or, frankly, much of a response at all.

Calmness.  Numbness.

With all that has transpired over the last year and all the real life challenges that I've experienced, witnessed, or have learned of others facing, to suggest that voluntarily running a race, even one of great length, extreme obstacle, and (apparently) less than ideal weather conditions...to suggest that it matters all that much would just be pretending and pretending unconvincingly.

Not to say that I am NOT looking forward to the Eastern States 100.

I am.

It doesn't mean that I am NOT super enthused to gather with the tribe again, share our individual stories, and write new ones together.

I absolutely am.

And NOT to say that the prospect of being out and on-the-move for 30+ hours in high temperatures, soaring humidity, and predicted powerful storms isn't daunting.

It is.


At this moment of my limited time on the planet, the “larger than life” narrative of running ultra distances is, well, nowhere near as large as life much less larger.  The ability to engage in aerobic activity that includes or transforms fully into physical discomfort or even pain is the privilege of those who are not weak, are not terminally ill, are in possession of the true luxury of leisure time, are among the living.  That realization lets a lot of air out of the ultra running balloon, but not nearly as much air as being weak, being terminally ill, not having leisure time, or not drawing breath takes out of life itself.

At no point during a race is my life at risk.  Even if failing to take proper care of myself nudges me in that direction, simply stopping alleviates the threat.  I have direct say in how at risk my life is when many do not.

Failing to reach the finish line won't bring life screeching to a halt any more than triumphantly crossing that same finish line will much improve my post-race existence.

It's amazing the trivial things that we elevate to such great heights and equally amazing the not-so-trivial things that we disregard or take for granted.

My legs will be tired and my feet will hurt.  Sounds nice to have legs that are tired and feet that hurt must think those that have neither.

My stomach will likely rebel and empty itself or refuse to be filled.  And then when the race is over, I'll eat as much as I want of whatever I want and my stomach will cooperate.  I will not go hungry and I will not be sick.  Others will go hungry, will be sick, as they have for as long as they can remember and as far into the future as they are able to imagine.

My distance to travel will diminish and in the end will be reached and should I fail to cover the desired distance on foot, I will get a ride to some other vehicle that waits to whisk me away to the comfort and safety of my home.  Guaranteed and never, ever in doubt.  Unlike those without a home or a means to get to where they wish to go or away from where they desperately need to be no more.

My mind will falter, will bend, and perhaps even break momentarily, but rest and sleep will return its faculties.  My brain will not cease to function, will not be damaged, or require parts of it to be removed.

No, I have not lost my want to physically challenge myself nor have I lost my admiration and respect for anyone who willingly takes on an endeavor that asks her or him to strive, to progress, to move, move, move!  I will forever cheer on friends and strangers alike and will laugh, tearfully, as they attain their goals and overcome those things that appeared to stand in the way of their progression.  I will continue to attempt the same and will shed tears and roar with laughter for my own efforts.


I have known true sadness and had some that lay dormant dredged back to the surface.  I've known anxiety and worry over matters that really matter.  Seen others’ health deteriorate, their finances vanish, even entire foundations of life crumble beneath them.  I've whispered goodbyes, wailed goodbyes, sometimes too late to have them heard.  I have felt truly powerless, BEEN truly powerless to right wrongs and save others from pain and sorrow.

All of which makes me human, none of which makes me unique.

Running and finishing (or not finishing) a race is full of symbolism and the before, during, and after are rich with life lessons.  Rich with lessons about life. But it isn’t life and shouldn't be mistaken or misrepresented as such.

It is play.  It is joyful, privileged play, but it is still pretend.

And so I am calm and nearly numb.

And for the better part of two days this weekend, I will embrace the absence from reality and the privilege of not worrying about anything that really matters for a short while.

I will play and I will smile, and laugh, and likely cry.

Time to pretend.