I'm back to tell you about the rest of the run...36 miles down, 14 final grueling miles to go...please read my last post before you read this one.
At this point I was set into a pretty good grove of trudging up the many hills and jogging/running/flailing down the downhills and shuffling/running the flats. The pain was a recognizable fatigue in the legs and I knew if I tried to keep a quick pace with the walking parts, it would make the running parts that much easier. The only problem I was having at this point was in my torso. My chest ached and my kidneys hurt to no end. I was sure I was experiencing kidney failure, mainly because of the pain, but also because of the lack of piss throughout the course. The downhills were the worst just because I would get so short of breath. This happened because I couldn't take a normal sized breath and was relying on short breaths to fill up the lugs as I moving along.
I recognized areas as I ran back through already charted path and at this point, besides one other runner, I was totally alone between stations. This led me to lots of thinking and pondering about pain, about my life, about why people would do such a thing as run distances beyond explanation. I wish I could tell you I came up with some wonderful revaluation, but I didn't. Looking back on it now, I realize I did more zoning out and looking around than actual deep thinking and the greatest thing i got during, and now after the race was this: the body really can just keep going. The times in life where you can't seem to move, or you're in too much pain to do something; well, chances are you can do it, you can move, you can perform. It really isn't the body at all that holds us back from being able to accomplish amazing feats, in fact, I think there is still a complete misconception as to what the human body can actually do. I think it's the mind that holds us back. Our own brains, how we think and what we tell ourselves. When you're out on the path and every second you go over the problems, the negatives, the excuses you will give when you quit, the justifications for quiting, they are overwhelming and they happen in any and all situations. But do you listen to them and act on them? Or do you push on through and overpower them? Believe me you can. And when you do, the next time you are challenged, they;re are less, then less, then even less. My goal is to one day be in a place where my mind and body are on the same level and are constantly working together. Where there is never "I can't" and always "keep going".
The last 5 miles were a mix. I walked the first 1.5 with a couple others who spent the majority of the time complaining about just about everything; one of them even had the nerve to say that he thought Dean Karnazes was taking steroids!! That was about the last straw and I said "screw this, I am running to the end". It was the longest 3.5 miles i ever ran, but I ran just about every inch if it. At that point I just wanted to be done, wanted to be sitting down and eating something. Wanted to be away from the woods and on to other things.
As I approched the finish line I felt a surge through my body of the same feeling I had near the end of the Marine Corps Marathon, I did it. I crossed the line at 12 hours and 7 minutes, a slow pace but I crossed the line. As the wonderful Ultra saying goes, "to finish is to win", and I was so happy I was done. I sat with Jim in a little grassy area, eating a hamburger and talking a little about the day as we watched others cross the finish line. My mind was not totally clear but one thing I remember very clearly was telling Jim that I could finally get back to weight training again, distance running was going on hold.
Close to a week after I finished my first ultra, I know i will do it again, I know I want to go further too. I think it will be a while before I get back into it but I am not done with running. I am planning on running marathon whenever I can, and I plan on running a 50k in September. Besides that, I am happy that I did it. I learned so much and feel like a new person. The world seems easier, pain seems less harsh and happiness and comfort seem more regular in my life. Running works wonders and the further I go with it, the more wonderful I feel.
I will never stop running, I will never stop training, I will never stop moving.