“The Dude abides. I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there. The Dude. Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals.” – The Stranger (The Big Lebowski)
What was my key to this race? I was going to run with love no matter how scared, hurt or tired I became. I thought about Khalil Gibran, who wrote what has become the theme of this journey:
“Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger. And if you grudge the crushing of grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine. And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night. All work is empty, save when there is love; and when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.” – The Prophet
I write this race report about an epic event that started over a year earlier and “ended” in a celebration just a few short days ago. I will try to stick to the race itself and leave the surrounding pre and post-drama to other episodes of my blog.
By the numbers, my team and I ran the 2010 Leadville Trail 100 in 27 hours, 50 minutes and 35 seconds. WAHOO!!!
I say team because if Jason and Ken did not put the Rogue Ultra Team together, I would be ripped, swimming miles every day and look healthy. Unfortunately, I am droopy, sleep deprived and generally insane. My team included the other runners that I spent countless hours with who became my family: Ken, Jason, Dr. David, Carrie, John, Paul and a host of other journey seekers (for a description of each character, read Thursday – The TV Show is Born! and that blog shows my psyche in its more guttural form). I say team because my crew and pacer team were phenomenal and critical to the celebration.My crew spent 24+ hours together waiting for me to stumble through every aid station. I think this is a worthy section to note that even the crew had amazing experiences and were able to see how this event transcends “ultra-running” from a selfish event to an epic journey experienced together. I say team because the infamous triathlon team from Austin, Team T-Rex, sent a delegation of 4 strong eaters to pace me the final 50 miles. I could not have done this without them. Bix, Joe, Matt and Don…If loving you is wrong, I do not want to be right. I say team because I had no idea how to stay alive out there without the true experts like Meredith Terranova and Dr. Patricia Rosen. And finally, there were others out there whose words of wisdom and encouragement kept me going and believing: Ken Chlouber (“What the Hell does that have to do with anything?”), Heidi Armstrong, and the crazy Gordon.
The Quick Backstory
When the running community met me just 15 months ago, there were doubts that I could pace my good friend and coach Jason Lippman the last 50 miles of the 2009 Leadville. Read about that experience…the bottom line is that I have struggled over the past 15+ months with the most important element of ultra-running: attitude.
A few of the key words that kept me going:
What transpired over 15 months? Well, if you were there, you would have seen a bunch of crying, yeast infections, decommits, expletives, laughter, stories that made the rest of the team try and hang themselves (remember airplane?) and general melodrama. Just the way I like it, uh huh uh huh.
When we arrived in Colorado a week before the race, I was committed to enjoying a family vacation void of thinking about the race. If I was not ready now, too late. I did not think about the race (ok, plan for the race), until the day before. I decided to spend the night in the beaver’s tail of the satellite office of Rogue Ultra: Jason’s sofa in Beaver Creek. I fought for covers and comfort with Jason’s dog, Emerson, the entire 4+ hours I was down. At 2am, we headed to Leadville. When we arrived, every one seemed to be alive with energy. I walked to the starting line as if I owned the joint. If you don’t got it, fake it is my motto.
I knew something very very comforting and very very scary: There was no excuse. My body felt great. I had no one to blame for my performance except for ME. My greatest fear was getting to the HURT and not having what it takes to keep going. I was not sure if I had it. Time to find out.
As I walked to the starting line, I carried my Flip HD video camera to document my attitude and awareness from the start all the way to the finish. I wanted to document the whole experience regardless of the outcome.
As I ran down the red carpet, my video camera was recording and I was looking for my ladies, my coaches, my team, Ken Chlouber, and anyone else that helped me get here. I did it. I felt great. AND, I stayed true to my promise: I worked with love. Thank you for reminding me of this Mike!
“when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God”
The Dude Abides!