Tuesday, May 26, 2015

In Search Of Ultra

Welcome to Ancaster Ontario, to Sulphur Springs Trail Race 2015.  My 50km challenge.

It hangs heavy in the air.  This nearly nostalgic excitement of time and space and all things footrace.  Goosebumps crawl along my arms standing in the registration line on Friday night. Here I am, I remind myself.  I must remind myself.  Here I am.  This me, accepted here.  Shoelaces tied with the superstars of the Ultra.  We are all here on a quest, a goal, a dream, a hope... and some of us a dare... To reach just beyond a normal.

To me that links us.  In some cosmic, super cheesy, karmic driven way, we are all 'Other'.  To run a hundred miles, my dear friend Clay tells me, makes us one in a million.  I trust his math.  It's good for my ego.  

I am other.  I am other'abled, other'mother, other'gender, other'pace, other'driven', other'lover.  I am, me, in so many ways.  I am accepted in circles of understanding of The Bigger Picture.  Whatever that means.  we are all here, in search of the Ultra. The dust covered gators, the quivering quads uphill, the right to stand and say on Monday in our normal lives... I did that.

It occurs to me standing in the start that perhaps I don't fit in because of ... oh insert any number of reasons.  But I think, I hope, that's what makes us all fit in.  Seeing beyond the life I live, into this purpose of creating an awareness for disabled athletes offers me a venue to chase dreams.  Sometimes I fear, they are not even my dreams.  But rather the quests of many who dare not.  Who am I to deny the passage of work and effort through my veins?  Who am I to say I can't, when what I truly mean, is that I won't.  The fear of failure haunts my every breath.  It clings to my sweat soaked shirt under the ripe lunchtime sun on the course of my choosing.  It pulls my shoulders forward and down, in a disgraceful, hide yourself in these trees gait as I trudge behind my wonderful, patient guide.  Fear of failure tempts me to sit in that chair and stay put, making a choice to stop effort before embarrassment sets in.  Fear of getting caught, of being exposed as a fraud in this endurance demographic sings louder than any of my off key attempts at old 80's commercials.

To be in search of something, implies you are missing something.  I think this as I run.  What, on earth am I missing?  I need no buckle, the
coveted bling of a 100 mile race.  I need no further sting in my legs of the DOMS that await me in the morrow.  I need no better grasp on reality, if anything I search to let it go.  Don't we all?  Then what, on earth am I missing?
I wonder what they see, the other racers, as they pass.  A girl struggling?  A girl following?  A girl focused on the sound of light trodden feet?  A girl not lingering out on course as long as them? No 100 for me today. A girl different?  A girl the same? Heaven forbid they see a runner.  I'd prefer they merely notice a presence of an attempt out of place.  Disability never quite fits you see. We get tossed into many different boxes, many different categories, but we never quite fit.  We are the comparison to which one defines 'ability' in it's full functioning form.

Oh how I could fill a dictionary in the preface 'dis'... disallowed, discredited, disengaged, disfunctional, dis....appointed.  A lesson taught any number of times.  A lesson I refuse to learn.

Climb the hills.  Gripping hands on knees.  In search of strength I thought was hiding somewhere.  Disjointed jaunt down the embankment, a newly found fear of the ground that may not rise to meet my feet.  In search of trust I swear by daily.  A grateful prayer to the dark skies that allow me to take a friend through a loop alone, as pacer.  Not a role I've ever been permitted to take on before.  In search of skills I long to be granted in different ways.  To cross a finish line both mine and not my own, in search of Ultra and all it stands for, all it offers, all it takes away. Tangled laces, hidden tears, unspoken regrets for the lack of speed, lack of grace; in search of desire to find something missing.

And yet, as the hours tick away, the question remains; what on earth am I missing?  In search of the Ultra that hangs in the air.  Until I figure it out, I'll keep showing up, hoping for a finish just beyond my reach.  Just past my circumstance.

You can see it in the faces of the finishers, 22, 25, 28, 30 hours later.  They have found their missing piece.  And the buckle to hold up their bravepants the next time they choose to chase down the search for the Ultra.

Write your own dictionary I say.  Quick where's my pen?

What does Ultra mean to you?

1 comment:

  1. I typed a comment so not sure if this is duplicate. Had password issues. Just said that this post made me tear up. You are so incredible and its funny that you wonder if you fit in. I think a lot of us feel that way, I know I still do. Wonder when that changes. For me the ultra was about finding a piece of myself, whatever that may be, but it was also a tribute to my boyfriend who I lost, and was supposed to run this with me. So I did it for him as well, in the year he didn't get (50th). So for me that race was so much more, but I do like the belt buckle :)