Whoops. I must have been experiencing such a strong combination of shock and surprise at that realization that I accidentally smacked "publish" before even typing a word.
Several of the other girls running IPR made mention of this fact over the past few days, and one of them posted some photos of her accidental trip to the summit of Imogene Pass (long story) that caused me to realize with a bit of surprise that we are less than a month away from a trip on foot from Ouray, known as the Switzerland of America, to the town of Telluride, Colorado. The Imogene Pass Run is my first big race for the fall season. Somehow, it was very sneaky and went from being an event well off in the future to a run that's almost here.
I'm equally excited and nervous about IPR. It's one of those unique events where you really are not running for much of the way up. Everything about it feels and looks different from any other road or trail race I've done.
It starts out looking like one of those old Eco-Challenge globetrotting team adventure competitions, with some people sticking to the switchback trails and others scrambling straight up over whatever rocks, dirt and vegetation are in their way. There is a gradual slowdown for most runners as the route becomes more steep, and runners get closer to that summit at 13,114 feet. By that time, I was tiptoeing, breathing harder than I ever have, and thinking to myself "I promise to never do this again if I get through this," following the joyful voice of the cowbell lady hollering "woo hoo! Almost there!" Almost There seems SO far away, and time seems to come to a standstill.
Upon finally reaching the summit with the full-service aid station, complete with chicken noodle soup, most runners have that experience that brings them back year after year. You turn around and look back to the Ouray side of the summit, and are overcome with that feeling that can't be put into words that comes from knowing you got up there not by jeep or car or other touring vehicle, but by your own two feet. After spending several minutes up there for photos and enjoying the accomplishment of reaching the summit, the journey down to Telluride begins, where the mind alternately wanders between how you're going to do this better and faster next year, and realizing the mind CAN'T wander yet because there are more slips, falls, and other bumps on the way down when the legs are tired and were in uphill form for several hours already.
Yeah-I can't wait for it again. Yeah, there's something seriously wrong with me. And I AM going to do it better and faster than last year. I won't be cursing my way to the summit. The girls from Nebraska I helped talk in to going won't be cursing my name either. We're all going to rock it. Okay-so maybe I am not thoroughly convinced that I'm going to rock it-but I'm going to pretend and go off in to a little world where I do rock it. Just four more weeks to go, and then the summer 5K/10K season will be a distant memory. Just four more weeks left to get in as much experience on trails as possible, because as race originator Rick Trujillo said at the pre-race orientation last year, "the mountains don't care." Time to crack the final whip on myself, and make sure I've put in enough to work capably traverse those beautiful, uncaring, and always changing mountains.
(Oh, and if this kind of agony and ecstasy sounds like it might be right up your alley-it's not too late. Legal transfers are available at the IPR Message Board where you find many offers for transfer, as well as a forum for those on the number hunting side of the deal.)