Monday, April 9, 2012

A Return to Normalcy?

Examining an ice core at WAIS Divide

Of all of my recent ultrarunning endeavors, I find I'm having the most difficulty returning to my normal way of life following the Barkley.  Similar to my transition following my PCT thru-hike, I am already struggling to sit in my office chair and plug away at my PhD research.  It took me nearly a full week to finally catch up on my sleep, and most of scratches have now healed.  I even went out for an easy jog on Saturday, and an even easier bike ride yesterday.  I'm nearly fully healed up and hope to ease back into my normal running this week.  Still though, I feel that coming down from last weekend's high, has been somewhat of a monumental "crash".  Did it all really happen?  How am I supposed to honestly work on my Thesis Proposal, process ice-core data, and sit at my sterile desk, following an experience like that?

I guess we all have to slowly move forward along that timeline...and do what we need to so that we can have experiences like the Barkley.  When I sit back, having now had a week to process everything, I realize just how privileged I was to have been a part of such an incredible event.  I wrote before about how honored and humbled I was to even be invited...and that still holds.  I will forever be grateful to Laz for giving me the chance to run the course, and also grateful to all those that helped me achieve the impossible.  There were so many things that had to go just right for me to finish.  How was it that I never got tired in 57 hours?  How was it that I was able to navigate the Beech Tree section by myself on Lap 2 perfectly?  How was it that the folks at camp were able to patch my feet up just well enough so that I could go out on a lap 5?  There were so many things that had to go perfectly, and I had no room for error.  When I sat down on the trail at the end of loop 4, I sincerely believed I was finished.  I would never have imagined that just an hour later, I'd be heading back up the same trail in the opposite direction on the sacred loop 5.

I have to admit, that this past week I've been extremely out of my comfort zone as well.  I've been getting requests for interviews, dozens and dozens of emails asking me about my training and my gear, and bombarded with congratulation messages.  While I am flattered by the attention, and extremely honored by those that have said my race has inspired them, it is certainly a tad uncomfortable for me.  Especially in light of the fact that I hadn't even posted a single entry that I was running the Barkley beforehand.  So I apologize to those of you that I haven't responded to yet...I'm just really not used to answering all these questions.  I'll do my best to get back any of you that emailed me.

For those of you that asked me about my gear, I don't really plug or evangelize any products.  I just kinda use what works for me.  I don't really have any pro-sponsors or deals, but am a part of the "Friends of Brooks" program...hence the Cascadia shoes.  Otherwise, like I said, I just kind of find what works and I use a lot of recycled gear (similar to how I honed in on my gear list for my thru-hikes).

So thank you everyone for the kind words.  Sincerely.  I still often catch myself saying, "Did I really finish the Barkley?"  And then I remember that moment coming down those final switchbacks when I was screaming at the top of my lungs....and I say, "Oh yes...I really did".

hike on my friends,

...oh and one question I've received quite a bit already is will I be reapplying to run in 2013?  For now, I will simply and honestly say, "I just don't know".

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