Saturday, June 11, 2011

The waiting game

We arrived in San Diego on Friday morning and immediately launched into the pre-race rituals of eating, buying more supplies that are likely unnecessary, eating, fretting, driving around, going to a pre-race meeting, eating, staring blankly out the window, and eating. I'm here with four friends who are actually running the San Diego 100, so despite my crew status, I've been going through the motions as well, including the eating. It's 10 a.m. and I've already had two breakfasts, with a third on a plate just waiting for my stomach to clear a little space. I may or may not end up pacing 50 miles starting this evening. For now, all I can do is wait, and kill a little time. I actually enjoy having mandatory time to kill, allowing for guiltless reading of blogs, napping, reading magazines, and eating ... it may not seem like I have too many responsibilities, but true boredom is not something I indulge in very often.

I grabbed a quick picture of my friends Martina, Steve and Beat just minutes before the 7 a.m. start of the race. This photo nicely captures the mood of the morning. Martina is the woman I'm supposed to pace starting at mile 51.3, sometime this evening. The outlook that I'll have an opportunity to do this is not overwhelmingly positive right now, as you can probably discern from the look on her face. She's not feeling too much optimism about the prospect of her first 100-mile finish here. As for Steve, this will be his third 100-mile run this year, and I think he has a kind of "wait ... why am I here again?" look on his face. Beat's in for his fourth 100-miler of 2011, his fifth at the San Diego 100, and I think 30th or more over his ultrarunning career. So Beat is geared up for the simple pleasures of a known challenge - emerging from coastal fog, high ridgeline views, the desert at midnight and Haribo Fizzy Colas. If Martina drops out early I'd like to catch up to Beat somewhere farther down the trail and join in on the fun.

I'm thrilled just to be here, on a high ridge of the Laguna Mountains just a few miles north of the Mexican border. It's an impressively gorgeous region, where cool coastal fog creeps around the rugged slopes of desert mountains. I want to run here; I want to run 100 miles here, but it's not my time for that. For now all I can do is wait, and sit on this bench overlooking the Anza-Borrego Desert in the pleasantly warm June sunshine, and be happy that today, I get to wait here.