This journey began for me several years ago. After watching a video of the course there was something that called me. For years I have thought about it, dreamed of days on end running in the mountains. For years I never signed up. I thought about the cost, the time, and the fact I always wait till the last minute to do anything. This year was no different. After our house burned December 22 life ahead required other things. Then Todd said to me, “If you ever are going to do Moab now is the time.” WE had lost our dogs, had nothing, and nothing to stand in the way. If he could ever come it would be this year, so Jan. 1 I signed up. Then the year began.
The end of Feb. I went to Jordon with my aunt. I returned home early march to a different life, Covid 19, was here. I was sick, still moving, and another story but, it left me unable to run for months. My dreams of long runs became walks. I could not go more than 1/10th of a mile without gasping for air. This lasted till the end of July. I gradually began to run again but it was slow going, an easy run walk. Then in Sept. I did Breaks 45 mile run just to see. I found just participating, not racing, was good. It allowed me to go slower, to rest as I need, then continue forward. In my mind I thought maybe it could work. The problem became the time to go was almost here. I had not made any plans. We had scheduled a makeup tri on the weekend so Todd was out. I then decided I would just plan to go alone, if something changed along the way great, but I was going regardless.
I think of this as a journey because for me I knew what I wanted out of this was something more than a race. I could not race anyway, I was not prepared. I wanted to peel back all the layers that have buried me for so long. I wanted to see what I was afraid to see. I wanted to face myself.
This 240mile journey began Friday 06:30am in Moab. We all had to carry a pack of mandatory gear that to me seemed so heavy, 3 liters of water, 2,000 calories of food, headlamp, batteries, extra headlamp, extra batteries, bevy, warm pants, warm jacket, hat, gloves, poles, phone, phone charger, and anything else you may like along the way. I understood the need for it all but my mind spent hours wanting to shed some of this. I had no luck, each aid station someone kindly filled my back with water and food and I thought it was heavier than before! The volunteers were amazing! They came from all over the country and set up camp. Their only goal was to help you succeed. They cooked food to order, filled packs, wrapped feet, took care of blisters, found whatever the runner needed. This was true at every station. There were campfires and chairs to sit at each one and everyone offered words of encouragement. There were 4 sleep stations where people could sleep in their sleeping bags or their crews met them there and they slept in a warm car. I must say Candice, the race director, did a wonderful job. She thought of every detail, the atmosphere like a family.
I thought of the race in sections by sleep stations. The first sleep station came at mile 72. My goal was to make it there then sleep a few hours, eat, then move on. I packed a sleep bag with my sleeping bag, blanket, change of clothes, and a few other things. Race volunteers took this to all sleep stations. The first 72 miles varied in terrain, from hot desert, massive rock mountain, technical footing, single track, open dirt. It was a beautiful changing canvas. I met some wonderful people along the way. Each person there for a different reason. I thought about how this was a journey for the soul. Lucky for me I met a lady named Christy and we ran walked the night together. I really enjoyed her company. When we reached the 72 mile sleep station I never saw her again. She, like most of the runners had a crew and pacer waiting there. I think she went on to do amazing. When I arrived I saw Randi, a dear friend of mine from Denver. Randi and I have been friends since my first trip to Leadville. We met camping next to each other and since that time, each summer, she comes to wherever I am. It is a sweet friendship. This time she had to work so I had not expected her to come. Seeing her there was such a joy! She had my sleeping bag laid out in her warm car. I slept so well!
Sunday am after 3 hours sleep I headed out for the second day. Since I was not racing I decided my destination was the next sleep station which was 50 to 60 miles away. This day was the hardest for me. My legs felt great but it was so hot! Miles of desert and moving along so slow. This aid station had several already struggling from blisters, heat, knee pain…so many things can happen. I think 62 people dropped from the first day. The heat was 90 plus. I did not feel the best here so I drank some pickle juice which was not a good idea. I marched on and when I found a bush that had a little shade on a rock I went to laid down. This was the only way I made it till evening. When the sun went down new life begins. There are 2 major climbs, in the woods, single track. The first was Shay Mountain. As I left the aide station to start this section I was scared. It was dark, there were not many markings, I was by myself, I lost my glasses! I had a map on my phone but I could not see the little arrow that showed if I was on the course. I hesitated starting but knew I had to. Everyone else had pacers and many did not go on. I looked for people along the trail that I could just follow. I heard some amazing stories. One lady lost 170 pounds another was a former drug addict, everyone had something. This group, like all my trail friends, are a beautiful mix of past, present, sorrow, joy, victories, and defeats. We are so many things and always searching for more. I love the farther I go the deeper I go, this is what keeps me moving forward. I met a young man named Chase. He was a joy to spend the hours with. His watched beeped if we went off track which I loved! I must figure that out…we talked, walked in silence, took 7 minute naps, finally 6am arrived at the second sleep station. There I greeted by Randi, Kris, and Chloe! What a happy surprise.
After a short nap Chloe heads out with me. This section was open running down large rocks. It was very hot but the conversation and downhill pace renewed me. This is always the case in life. Friends bring a joy and silent strength by just being present. I felt good and happy. The nausea from the day before was gone. At the next aid station Kris joined me. This was a hot desert on a dirt road that went for 26 miles! When nighttime came it became very cold. I felt as I was running with my eyes closed. I began to see trash everywhere which were really rocks. I saw a large blanket blowing in the wind in front of me for mile and mile. I had to take some 7 minute naps here. I am sure Kris was so cold waiting for me. She never complained. We arrived to the third sleep station around 3 am. The best vegetable broth was here. I drank 3 cups. I think broth is a superfood. It will bring you back to life.
Monday 6am I began my fourth day. I knew the hardest climb was to come. I was nervous about this. I still did not have any glasses but I had to go. This morning I was met by Jerry, my running partner at home. I had no idea he was coming. He rented a car and drove from Ky. This was an amazing gift to me. Randi, Chloe, and Kris all left that morning and now I had Jerry to see me to the end. I loved this day as I traveled alone. As the days went by I saw fewer and fewer people. At the aid station I heard more stories, one lady lost 100 pounds, another starting a new chapter in life, overcoming cancer…people are amazing. Lucky for me this climb started in daylight so I could navigate much easier. I followed the few ribbons and felt without glasses I was doing ok. I loved this section, Trees and single track, just like home. I finished that section sometime after midnight. Jerry had a place for me to sleep in his car, made me some scrambled eggs, my favorite! Then after 3 hour nap I was off on my last 40 miles!
The beginning of this trail was my favorite time. For the next 2 to 3 hours before the sun came up I moved along with ease. I sang all the songs of my childhood and allowed myself to look within. I wanted to see the layers of life that hide me. I wanted to removed them and see what was there. I have not done this for 40 years. It is to easy to go so far and stop. I wondered what I was afraid of. Why guilt or pain? Why have I spent so much of my life destroying myself? The addictions, the fear to be myself, the fear of letting go of control. I realized I did not need the answers to anything. I needed to open up, peel back the layers and let healing begin. The warmth of love, the beauty around me, I am enough, we are all enough. I felt a great peace and I thought this is why I am here. No matter what happened I found what I came for. The journey of my soul.
I finished this day with blisters. I could not believe it! Only 16 miles to go and I had to take care of them and cut my shoes to move. The last 16 miles and after are a whole other story. Someday I will write about it. Lucky for me Jerry stayed around to drive me home. I loved every minute of this journey.