So Strong When Being Most Vulnerable.
One would think that with all the mental and physical strength required to run 100 miles, in the days immediately following there would be a sense of invincibility, or at least pride and confidence. Recently, for me, it was when I found myself the most vulnerable. After the Cascade Crest 100 this year, I found myself wondering if the vulnerability is my psyche’s way of keeping me in balance, or, as I ponder more, is the strength right there in the vulnerability.
To run 100 miles is to draw on my emotional, physical and psychological strength. I forced myself to push through a dark two-mile tunnel in spite of nervous fear of rats. I reflect with disbelief that I stood half naked, changing, while dear friends stood close holding up blankets in the Hyak parking lot. I stuffed my mouth with food as I answered questions. Basically, I surpassed my accepted norms and make the realities of what I do to run 100 miles my norm for that day. Thinking back on those and many more potential embarrassing moments felt like one crazy reality check.
Reflecting after the race on how many special moments, private moments and intimate details, were shared with people close to me, so close that I face them day to day, felt kind of scary. This year I brought in the #rookiecrew, four people very close to me (sister, boyfriend & two high school girl friends) to crew me. Another quick-close-friend that I only met in the last year, paced me for the first pace-able section. The only one with any ultra experience arrived to pace me the last 20 miles. I’ve known him since I started the sport and the very understanding friend had to watch the whole exposé through the newbies’ eyes. They all saw me at my most raw. From the highest high, to the wheels-falling-off, literally bare-ass low, feels vulnerable. What my head does with that, can be scary.
In the past I have shared these experiences with people I know well in the sport and know that this is their norm too, until Cascade Crest. This time I chose to share this with loved ones that know me outside of the running world, who know a few of my stories about running long races, but have never experienced a long run for themselves, or shared in someone else’s experience. Everything was foreign to them, but they went with it and made it happen because they love me.
Now that they’ve seen it all, literally all, will they still love me? Will knowing that I am able and capable to get that dirty, to push my body further when it hurts, cause judgment? Can expressing the full enjoyment I get out of seeing what my body and mind can endure when I challenge myself in the mountains, cause question? If I share the beautiful places that make me feel so alive, will it breathe life into them? Will they get it? Think I’m crazy? Love me because they think I’m crazy? Will they think I’m a badass, tough chick… or crazy?
The more I reflect I realize the strength in the ability to be that real, exposed and vulnerable. I know that because I am able to show them everything, that this is me, the same person that has been doing this for years, the same girl that writes postcards to their kids, and makes waffles and chars bacon. I am okay with being vulnerable and showing them what I am capable of and what that allows me to accomplish. I find confidence that they love me even more for all of the quirks and badassery I exude because the ability to say and show, “this is who I am,” is what inspires me.
It took some thinking and a few conversations, but I feel that putting everything out there to be judged, no matter what it is, it is in the conscience decision to be okay with that sharing, that is a strength I gain each time I toe the ultra line and is what inspires others.