Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Chimera 100 Race Report

The Chimera 100 was over 28 hours of in the moment experience. In our daily lives, we do not get to spend much time in the moment. We exist in our heads or at the next place we need to be. We’re thinking about what to make for dinner or how to solve that problem. We make long lists in our heads of the many chores we need to do. We worry about what others think, and how we look and what we said and what he said.  One hundred miles on foot is purely that- you have two feet to carry you a hundred miles and that is all you have to do. Of course one must fuel her body to make such a feat possible, but once the race begins all you have to do is move.

Along the course I observed the beauty of the landscape and the light and fog and sun upon that landscape. I watched my footing and noticed individual rocks and divots in the terrain. I observed bright yellow leaves and large monstrous plants native to the area. I saw city lights in the distance, sparkling stars and a moon that shimmered above me. I noticed sparkling drops of dew in my headlamp and big yellow orbs that stopped me in my tracks when I realized they were connected to a mountain lion. Even when such a problem presented itself- a mountain lion and I alone on the trail at 3:30 in the morning- all I had to do was pick up some big rocks, bang them together and hope for the best. A problem was put in front of me and to move on I had to deal with it. So I did. No feelings, or second thoughts or choices to deal with. Right here, right now.

During this intensive journey in the now, I crossed paths with folks who were doing the same thing as me. When our paths crossed, we shared stories and the trail. If you can imagine the physical trail as a segment of time, moving forward, both trail and time, I covered distance over time in the company of my fellow runners. I shared moments with a first time 100-miler, a runner who returned to conquer Chimera once and for all, a runner whose life was saved by running and a runner who seemed to be running from himself. These moments are ingrained in my mind, because I was both mentally and physically present during this shared time.

I spent a lot of time with myself. I was alone for long periods of time. I came to this race alone and prepared to run it alone and take care of myself. I had reservations about taking care of myself after the race and being alone when I fell apart, but when all you have to do is think about yourself right here, right now, the task is simple and basic. I found great joy in such simple chores- no thinking, just doing. I didn’t have any hallucinations as in previous races. The mountain lion WAS real. When I felt low and felt the need to reach out for support, I looked down at my feet and the trail and just kept doing what I was doing. It was that simple. The race felt like no great heroic effort. I don’t say this to say it wasn’t hard or without effort. But, for 28+ hours I stayed where I was, physically and mentally, and with patience, movement, calories and intention I covered 100 miles of ground.

That ground was incredibly climby. The course covered 22,000 feet of elevation. Besides the nine mile relatively flat out and back the other ninety-one miles found me ascending or descending. I was overwhelmed by the constant physicality of the terrain. It was a constant reminder of this is where you are right now. My quads and hips screamed, “we’re going down!” My lower back nagged, “Another F@$%#@ hill?”  It hurt. But there was no thinking about it. I wasn’t in my head. My head didn’t stand a chance against my legs. Nobody wants to endure pain for long periods of time to feel Zen, but I love and need to move my body. This is how I experience the present. Some days it just might be easier to climb 22,000 feet than dwell inside my busy mind.

A week now since I crossed the finish line and the aches and pains are subsiding. The nasty cold I contracted post 100- mile effort is beginning to retreat. It took me a week to glean what I would from this experience. I was looking for the big message, the wisdom, the lesson learned. The Chimera 100 was 28 hours from point A to point B. I was there, moving, paying attention, being right here, right now and I loved every minute of it.

My opponent 

Running into Blue jay after 20 miles

Up Main Divide, heading onto the Horsethief Trail

Looking out from Main Divide

Indian Truck Trail aid station. The glowing tents were such a welcome sight.

Yellow glowing eyes attached to mountain lion. (Photo from internet)

Near bottom of Corona - 7 miles down/ 7 miles up- looking up to where I was headed.

A happy place to be. The finish.

(Photos from Chimera 100 Facebook page)


Lauren said...

Congratulations on an enormous feat! I remember you from the Holy Jim Aid Station (I worked it). I haven't met another runner who has explained "the now" and relating it to running. That too is why I run trails. According to C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape letters, the present is closest to God. Congrats again. You did an awesome job. Good luck on future goal!

Anonymous said...

Great to read to try to understand why Sarah does what she does. Besides crossing the finish line, she takes something intangible home from California.......