It’s down there. Deep down there. Somehow, I will find it. That is all my life is for.
Mine is the story of a girl who could and a girl who couldn’t. A girl who is stubborn against the crowd, the club. A girl who is insistent on the other world, the world of the spirit.
Here is a picture of me on the Silverton course. Yes, that guy is dressed in a Jester outfit and ran more than 200 miles like that. I am stalked (literally) by the Jester.
From Wikipedia: “The root of the word \”fool\” is from the Latin follis, which means \”bag of wind\” or that which contains air or breath…In literature, the jester is symbolic of common sense and of honesty, notably in King Lear, the court jester is a character used for insight and advice on the part of the monarch, taking advantage of his license to mock and speak freely to dispense frank observations and highlight the folly of his monarch…The fool\’s status was one of privilege within a royal or noble household. His folly could be regarded as the raving of a madman but was often deemed to be divinely inspired….”
The runner, the ultra-runner, but especially the multi-day-runner, is a seeker. I am the girl who sought spirit in long distance running. I believe this to be true since I first began running at the age of 13. I was inspired by the idea of freedom and spacious distance. To go to a race course which is one mile, up 235 feet each time, at 9,300 plus elevation, and run 86 laps around it seems folly. Is that what the Jester is secretly symbolizing?
Multi-day races are for the patiently enduring. The average age of the athlete rises into the 50\’s. Its point is the forward movement over time and the eventual mental and physical struggle; a microcosm of life and death and re-birth. I went to Silverton Colorado for a 72 hour running race. I went very unsure that I could run 100 miles in 3 days, but it took all of each day yesterday to prove it to my ego.
No belt buckle for me, but a great showing for a flatlander. I ran 31 miles the first day and threw in the towel as day light waned. I went 24 miles the second day before my endocrine system shut down due to my fueling mistakes. I felt great the third day and went another 31 miles; stopping with a total of 86 miles, at 6 pm in the evening.
3 days. Total hours = 10.6 + 9 + 12.2 = 31.8 hours. Total miles = 31 + 24 + 31 = 86. Total feet climbed = 86 x 235 = 20,210 ft (omg, thats alot). And this brings me to the most major dilemma of the event: why not finish 100 miles and get the belt buckle? Real ultra runners would do that. I’ve already been treated like a loser because I didn’t do that. It is not like I couldn’t have done it. I certainly could have slowly walked another 7 hours until about 3 am, and finished 100 miles.
So I am both a winner (finished 86 miles) and a loser (didn’t finish 100 miles). This is what the Jester jokes to me about.
This is my first multi-day event. There are some awesome people here. Silverton is a beautiful place. I am still impressed at how mature most of the runners are. My age of 52 is about average with very few below age 45, some up into their 70s. We do have a couple of 10 year old boys running too. Two people from Hawaii age 61 and 63 are prolific ultra runners (I was able to look them up at Ultra signup). They made 114 miles total.
You know, each of us here is going through some sort of personal struggle and transformation. It is not really about finishing 100 miles to get a buckle. It is about your daily struggle to keep going to your own personal limits.
I sit quietly and ask my soul for an answer? Why did I come here? Why do I run? I guess the answer is in the fact that I go running again. I am an athlete. There seems to be no other answer than the two edged sword provided by the Jester: I am good enough/ I am not good enough.
The ego’s dilemma and always what the Jester points to: we are all fools, unknowingly naked in our strivings. We are unstoppable in our human endeavors, yet death stalks us all.
I would not trade the life of a distance runner for anything in the world. This life came with me into the convent and was efficacious in getting me kicked out of the convent. Running comes with me into contemplation and self transcendence. Running gets me out of bed each day.