I’ve never been more afraid of a run than I was of this, my first 50-miler. In the weeks building up to it, I kept thinking about all the times I’d gotten to mile 22 or so in a marathon and started getting dark–really, really dark. The thing about a marathon, though, is that even if you’re questioning your very right to exist at mile 22, you’ve only got half an hour of suffering to endure before it’s over and you feel like yourself again. But what would happen to me if I went dark at mile 22 of this race and stayed there for the next 28 miles?
As it happened, I never went dark once during this run. Partly that was a result of taking it pretty easy throughout, prioritizing my ability to finish over all other goals. But more than that, it was a result of being surrounded by beauty all day long, so I never felt anything less than incredibly lucky to be where I was.
(This was the first race in my experience during which I had to take a phone call while I ran: the dish machine at the restaurant suddenly stopped working in the middle of Saturday brunch, and Jesus, our dishwasher, called me for help. He had no idea that I was in the middle of the woods, and I suspect that trying to decipher my terrible Spanish helped distract him from my heavy breathing. I couldn’t help him with the dishwasher, but I never broke stride.)