|Stylin' during the 2010 Bear 100, somewhere much too far above Bear Lake. Not pictured: Hurty feet.|
Girl was not a runner, but she almost never says no to an adventure, especially with a Swiss cutie who appears to genuinely like doing these kinds of things for fun. She found a friend who was driving from Los Angeles to Salt Lake, hitched a ride to her parents' house, stole their truck without their permission while they were on vacation in Germany, borrowed a bunch of halfway workable "running" clothes from their closet, and drove to Logan. She arrived at the mile fifty aid station still wearing jeans and eating a large sandwich for dinner, expecting to wait for boy and then form a plan for much later in the race — only to have him show up less than five minutes later, look at her with his piercing brown eyes and ask, without a hint of sarcasm, "So, are you running?"
It's the story of how I unintentionally ran fifty miles with no training in cotton yoga pants and rhinestone-bedazzled sunglasses. Of how Beat's blistered feet hurt so much that he would occasionally scream Swiss-German swear words without a hint of comedy. Of how we went all through the night talking about bicycle touring and quantum physics, losing the trail, climbing above the trees and turning our headlamps off to look at the stars, collectively willing ourselves to run faster when the temperature dropped to 21 degrees, going until my own feet hurt so bad that every footfall caused me to wince, and then Beat refused to continue at his own pace in a race that was his race, just so he could help me hobble through the last ten excruciatingly slow miles. Afterward, we had several hours to kill before we could catch a bus ride back to the start, so we made out in the grass at a tiny park in Fish Haven, Idaho. It was seriously the best first date ever.
|Beat during the 2010 Bear 100. So adorable.|
However, I did recruit my friend Danni to pace me in the Bear 100, so I can't back down now. We had a great time last year during the Slickrock 100, when she was the runner and I was the pacer. So I have that to look forward to. Despite my current fatigue, I do feel I was in good shape for UTMB; not that much can have changed in a month. Also, I was similarly tired right before the Stagecoach 400, and while I can't deny that I felt fairly shattered for much of that 3.5-day mountain bike race, I did finish the thing. After the first twenty (steep!) miles of the Bear 100, my legs would probably feel dead either way. So really, starting with empty legs is just giving up a relatively small head start in a race like this. And the truth is, I'd really love a shot to try to finish a summer 100-mile trail race. Although UTMB was beyond my control, there is this sense of disappointment that I'm now 0-for-2, despite a 2-for-2 record in winter 100-milers. Is there a good chance I'll be 0-for-3 after the Bear? Well, yes, but the most memorable adventures for me are the usually the most outlandish ones. I'm excited.
And it's true I'm a nostalgic person by nature; more than anything, I'm anticipating a visit to the beautiful locations of a few of my favorite memories. During the 2010 Bear 100, Beat stopped me at a high point under the stars and handed me a rock that he found on a high mountain pass in Italy. He carried through the Tor des Geants and now the Bear 100, and gave it to me as he nervously asked whether I was interested in "dating" even though he lived in California and I lived in Montana. I (now famously) replied "sure" with a shrug, and we left it at that for a while. You can bet that I'll be pressing forward on Friday in anticipation of reaching that spot, and also likely carrying that rock with me as well, for good luck.
As Helen Keller wrote — life is a daring adventure, or nothing.