Like everything that requires great effort and commitment, getting started is often the most difficult part. With racing, I find the ritual of signing up helps. It makes an indelible impression, maybe in part because I just wrote off $125. Regardless it works because today I made the commitment to pursue my third 24 hour race, this time with a serious pursuit of 100 miles in 24 hours. The Delirium 24 winds around a trail-laden 1.69 loop in Ridgeland, SC, taking place on a wintry first weekend in February. Everything about this race will be unpleasant — the cold, black winter training mornings … the endless, cold and monotonous loop that I’ll feel compelled to run 60 times by the time the sun rises on the second day … and the gap I realize I need to close between now and February to be in such a position to achieve the 100.
Today though, under a comfortable, breezy, sunny first day of training, it was made unpleasant ONLY by the absence of my running partner, an athletic, brilliant, beautiful wired haired vizsla named Lola. She was stolen from us after only three years, while using that athleticism to leap to the heavens and under a lousy rain by mother nature, landed unfairly and left us prematurely. She was my running partner, sometimes pulling me to faster speeds; sometimes I pulled her during warm summer mornings in Atlanta’s streets of Buckhead or along the Gulf of Mexico’s hot pathways. Distances of 5, 7 … even 10 miles didn’t seem to phase her. Frustrated in the beginning with an inability to pursue vermin, she adjusted to a steady stride … side by side, four fast legs touching down alongside two plantar fasciitis-stricken feet. Visualizing her excitement when she watched me lace my running shoes, knowing immediately that there was a chance she too was going for a run … simply tears at an already wounded heart. We ran hundreds of miles together, but I wish we ran more. Today, with her leash in hand, I took her for one final run … 8 miles along her old stomping grounds. I wish I could say I felt her pulling me along today, but I didn’t. All I know is … I ran better, faster than in recent months.