Ryan and I run the Red Hot 55k/33k each year in February. This year's race fell on Valentine's day, which made it extra cute (I guess, if you're into that sorta thing). Ryan's had an injured hip, so he suggested dropping from the 55K to the 33K and running with me.
Well, this was an interesting proposition. Normally I am completely against couples running together. I look forward to this race all year—would this sour my experience? Would we fight? Would I hold him back? True, there were a lot of things I was worried about. Then again, Ryan knew I was going for a 4 hour finish. He could probably really push me to a new PR. As long as he was OK with us playing it cool and splitting up if we needed to, then I was in. Besides, the idea of him doing the 55K and getting injured sounded like a bad idea.
We drove down to Moab on Friday and realized it was super hot. The morning of the race, it was already warm. By the time we started running, I had to take off my long sleeve after 3 whole minutes.
Did I mention how much I love this race? The course is exceptionally beautiful: red rock cliffs, high mesas, dramatic overlooks. It has a ton of uphill and Ryan kept telling me to slow down and hold back. I was breathing really hard and couldn't seem to catch my breath. This never changed and, looking back, I think my asthma must have been looking forward to the race too.
|Couples who run together...run..together?|
Oh water, I've taken you for granted my whole life!
At the finish, my chest hurt so bad I was sure I was having a heart attack. I coughed up sand for a few hours as we watched our friends finish strong. On the way back to our hotel, I stopped and got my traditional celebratory donut.
A lot of things go through my head when I'm racing. I think about my friends and family. I time travel. This time last year, I had a long road ahead of me. Looking back over the past 12 months, I'm saddened at how much hate I've carried around in my heart. It's been a strange year. A lot of things have changed. Friends have come and gone, I've switched careers, and people I know have been through a lot. I think I take on a lot of pain and sadness that isn't mine. I have a hard time with change. I'm working on it. I guess I also thought this race was going to ... I don't know, save me?
Like, I'd show up, do really well, and be absolved of all my sins in 2014. After the race, it was pretty clear that wasn't the case. I had overwhelming anxiety and my heart felt like I was falling down an elevator shaft. I put on a brave face and went out with friends. Sunday morning, I thought I had enough energy to go for a 10 mile run in the park. But, when I tried, I couldn't breathe. I had a good enough excuse, sure; I'd pushed really hard the day before and one of my toenails was falling off. But in reality? I was scared.
|Jackie in the Alcove|
It wasn't until later when we met up with friends and explored a new trail that it happened. Things got quiet and no one had to say anything. It was so nice. Ryan and I sat on a log next to our car and watched the clouds drift by. Those clouds were the most important business of the day.
..."This is it, " I thought "This is what I've been waiting for all weekend. All year. Just this moment." I was suddenly sad that the race was over. I'd been building it up for so long. I was so worried about the whole weekend—the ghosts from last year lingering just outside the lines. And now? Now, it was over.
I panicked for a second and asked Ryan, "How am I going to remember this moment next time I need it??!! I wish I could bottle this!" The sun was extremely warm, the breeze just right. It was quiet. My heart rate slowed down and my chest didn't hurt anymore.