You worry about her. Because you’re a worrier. That’s what you do.
She’s come so far since you’ve known her. From a tentative runner who was terrified of a half marathon, to a fearless ultra beast who can stare down a hundred miles for breakfast.
It’s that stare that worries you.
She’s intense. Pre-race group dinner? No, she has the private ritual. Chicken, white rice, sweet potato. One beer and a bottle of Cuervo Gold to help her sleep. Don’t mess with her on the night before the race.
Talk to her on race morning? No way. That would require waking up early. But she focuses, so you would be scared to anyhow.
Her fueling during the race? She finally figured it out, so leave her alone. Shoes? Yes, she’s wearing shoes. Stop interrogating.
Her training? Forget it. She is a proponent of the Shut Up and Run school of training. You know she does a bunch of miles. Hard. And you know she’s ready. But she won’t say much.
Her goal? To get people to stop bugging her. She won’t say what she’s shooting for. It’s between her and the running gods.
She’s serious. Really serious. Really, really, really serious. You worry about her a lot. There’s a dark place you can go when training in ultras, a place where you get too obsessed. The miles are so long, the stakes are so high, the crashes are so hard.
She is so immersed in the process these days. You’ve never come across someone so determined. You fear she has hit the point where it isn’t fun. Where the clock and the mile markers and the pressure suck the life out of the run. Where it’s all just a burden.
You’re thinking about all these things as you stand at the 19-mile mark of the race, waiting for the peeps to arrive. And here she comes.
She charges through the aid station, head down, never slowing to give the buffet a look. That worries you.
But then she sees you. And starts to dance as she runs.
On a day full of happy sights, this is the happiest one you’ll encounter. It’s the joy of running on a trail on a chilly February day, the joy of knowing you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. It’s perfect.
As she fades out of sight down the trail, she’s still in the midst of her trail ballet.
You stand there for a minute, feeling dumb. She gets it. She knows the secret. You need not worry about her.
You go back to worrying about what will happen if they eventually run out of Medium Chocolate Frosties.
Because you’re a worrier. That’s what you do.
Beautiful stuff, both the writing and the runner. One of the highlights of the race was watching dance the trails when we would meet. She’s amazing.
As if I weren’t eager enough to meet her already.
I could almost hear that photo.