Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sleeping is giving in

I had planned to turn around at 45 minutes, but that was before the wind really picked up speed. Erratic gusts buffeted the bike from all sides, whistling through the vents in my helmet and causing the wheels to teeter ever so slightly in the midst of the uphill grind. I admit it was kind of exciting, so I continued climbing. The wind carried a surprisingly strong chill. It was 65 degrees in the valley, probably high 50s up here, and the wind made it feel like something closer to 45. A spark of cold realization made me think about the upcoming weekend; I shivered with anticipation and tried to push those thoughts aside by shifting up a few gears and cranking a little harder. As I approached the ridge, a jet stream of fog tore across the hillsides seemingly inches from the top of my helmet. The wind, having finally chosen a clear eastward direction, howled with the intensity of a sonic blast as seemingly benign white clouds streamed past at astonishing speeds. It was a strange sort of storm, and it caused me to shiver even though I knew it was harmless. This was just wind and fog from the Pacific. The skies overhead were crystal blue and the valley below was warm and calm. This was just a microburst of a windstorm, and I purposely rode farther than I should have to find it. But the personalized pocket of exciting intensity made me smile all the same.

On Friday I make my way toward Lake Tahoe for my first attempt at a "summer" 100-mile trail run, the Tahoe Rim Trail 100. I could ramble on and on about how nervous I feel, about the consistent jolts of reality that I'm actually *not* a very good runner, how I realized that a 100-mile race is not the same thing and probably not nearly as fun as a long leisurely hike through the wilderness, or how I'm pre-emptively mourning for my feet — but those things aren't relevant now that I've accepted that I'm setting out into the Sierras early on Saturday morning. I know I'm not going to come close to winning and I know it's going to hurt, a lot, probably more than I even understand despite my extensive feet-mourning period. I know I'll be ecstatic if I finish in something close to 30 hours, pretty darn happy if I finish at all, and I know I won't feel any of these emotions until well after the pain has finally stopped, which, even at my most optimistic won't be for a very long while. So why go? Why indeed?

Maybe, once the pain has finally abated, I'll be able to expound on that ongoing internal debate. For now, I just have to focus on putting one foot in front of the other and let those fleeting moments of clarity sort themselves out in the midst of the micro-storm that I sought out on purpose.

There may be updates during the race at this Web site, or possibly on the Twitter at this feed or hashtag #TRT100. I don't really know. I considered carrying a SPOT, but that's really quite silly given I'll be plodding along a fairly tight and well-marked course at, well, plodding speeds. So updates during the race may be few. Wish me luck, and if you really want to make me smile when I'm wallowing in self-inflicted hurty-foot pain, you can buy my book while I'm gone or, if you already read it, leave a review on Amazon to tell me what you think. For those who purchased signed copies recently, I'm hoping to receive my latest order on Tuesday and will try to get those out next week. Thanks again!

As for me, I'll probably be humming through the ear-worm of what I've already made my 100-mile-plod-through-the-night theme song, "Rebellion" by the Arcade Fire:

Now here's the sun, it's all right (Lies! Lies!)
Now here's the moon, it's all right (Lies! Lies!)
But every time you close your eyes (Lies! Lies!) ...

Good times.