Since 2013 ended and 2014 began... 13 days ago, I've run the Pistol 100 (sub 24 hours) in Arctic Vortex conditions and then turned around the following weekend and ran the Ledesema Sports Medicine Rails 2 Trail 50k logging 145 miles in less than two weeks. But I haven't had a single word to type about either race because I've been distracted.
For those who know me, my main goal over the last two years has been to get into the Barkley Marathon. A 120+ mile, 5 Loop course in Frozen Head State Park, which only allows 35 entrants per year and has only seen 14 finishers since 1986. Essentially, a race that I know I will not finish...
This past weekend while running with fellow "Weight Lister" Karen Jackson, we were asked "Why the Barkley, whats the appeal". I found myself getting very quiet and muttered out some BS response in hopes that the question would go away. But I continued to hold that question in my gut the rest of the afternoon, evening and even until this morning.
Let me preface the rest of this post by saying the following: I am not a religious person. To me religion is a personal choice needed for those without direction to help fill much needed voids. This is not a religious discussion, these are my thoughts. I don't judge you for your beliefs and certainly do not ask for your guidance or acceptance on the lack of mine. Do what's right. The buddhists got it right, end of discussion.
To me the Barkley represents more than a race, more than a journey. It's a right of passage that I can
actually see peace in. Very similar to the harsh treks that Buddhist monks must undertake to reach their new homes such as the Agia Triada Monastery. The Monks find peace through their physical and personal struggles. They learn more about themselves through those struggles than they could ever imagine. They understand the core of themselves, what it means to be at the brink of disaster, when all hope is gone and realize that we still can control our emotions and physical bodies during those times. We have no control over our surroundings. We have no control over the weather. We have no control over what is happening to us because of our surroundings. Responding to those conditions to survive is what will get us to our destination and is what we can control.
Barkley to me is a journey of self reflection. I'm not looking forward to the struggle, I'm not looking forward to the pain. I am looking forward to running with myself and I see Barkley as a test of enlightenment and because of this, I have been distracted.
I am still sitting 3rd on the "weight list" which if history is correct, means I have an excellent shot of getting into the race this year. Because of this, my training has been more focused than it has been in years. It is still my responsibility to ensure that my body is ready for the Journey. With only 35 runners in the race, I would hate to take this away from someone else and not be 100% on race day.
While my main goal over the next few months is preparing and hoping that 3 people drop out. I still have to remember to enjoy the process or I'll miss out on much, much more. I am distracted by the number 3, however it does have me focused and hopefully I'll be ready to take the first step in what I know will be a long process of self discovery.
"No one saves us but ourselves, No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path." Buddha
Some GREAT friends that I've run with recently:
Tommy Neeson: 4000 Steps book signing in Savannah, GA
Christmas Run 2013 - All the crew!!!
Pistol 100 with Brian Reddish and Karen Jackson and of course can't forget about Sallie!
(Woody Aid Station)
My best bud, Bobby Holcombe - Pistol 100
A long recovery run at Rails 2 Trails 50K with Karen Jackson!
And my favorite 2 miles in a LONG time was spent yesterday afternoon with Jake and Izzy, trying to find the "Rock Quarry". We walked through the woods, swamps and finally found it... together!!! Those were the best miles, ever!!!
Here's to staying focused over the next three months... see you on the trail!!!