First things first:
As I've been mentioning for a while now, my 2013 Badwater effort is in support of G-PACT, the Gastroparesis Patient Association for Cures and Treatments. My little sister struggles with this disease, so this cause has particular personal significance for me. Any and all donations are appreciated. And, as was the case last year, if you donate, I'll write whatever you want me to write, in whatever color you'd like, on an article of clothing that I'll be wearing during the race (I'm leaning towards an arm sleeve).
And, with that said, it's now July, or, more significantly, Badwater month. With just a couple weeks now until the big event, and the better part of the proverbial physical hay (the kind that collects from as many hours as I can stand, running in whatever heat that I can find) in the equally proverbial barn, most of the task now becomes logistical and mental preparedness, so some perspective is in order . . .
Flashback to February, after I couldn't manage to average sub-7-minute-mile pace for 10 miles at Club Challenge. The idea that, in five months, I would be toeing the line for another 135 miles through Death Valley, chasing, if nothing else, the ghost of my impressive endeavor there last year, was downright terrifying.
And the year since then has been one big scary adventure into the unknown. From missing the Boston Marathon for the first time in eight years, to repeatedly near-missing qualifying times for the 2014 Boston Marathon, to adventures in Costa Rica, Colombia, and Bolivia, to an unlikely success at MMT, to an abject failure at TARC, nothing has been very predictable, and everything has kept me on my toes.
Now I'm here, July 1st, after the longest coldest winter I can remember, on the verge of running what has the potential to be the hottest Badwater ever. For this year, that seems to be par for the course. And with the course of 2013 being as fraught with peril as it has been so far, I'm reluctant to make too many promises or predictions about what might happen for however many hours it takes after 10 a.m. on Monday, July 15th (aka the Ides of July).
I will go as far as to say that there will be pain - and lots of it - from the Badwater Basin to Whitney Portal. I'll also go out on a very short limb and say that, based on recent race experience, I will want to quit, and frequently. But I won't quit, no matter how much I want to - and I strongly suspect that I will want to.
Because if the first half of 2013 has reminded me of anything, it's that there's plenty more to running than competition. Since my burnout in 2012, it's been a long way back to re-learning how to run healthy, and to re-gaining the little joys that come from that smile from a passer-by, or that glimpse of scenery that burns itself into your memory. And now that I remember that running can be like that, more often than not, that's how I want it to be. And more often than not, it should be that way. But come race day, it's not going to be that type of pleasant; it's going to be an excursion back into the darkness that was the latter half of 2012.
For myself alone, I have no reason or desire to go back into that darkness. It's too recent, it's not fun, and it's not the way life should be.
But I'm not running Badwater this year for myself. I'm running it for my sister's charity, G-PACT, because I promised that I would. I'm running it for the people who supported G-PACT through their donations, because they believe in the cause and they believe in me. I'm running it for my family and my friends and the city of Baltimore, because they've supported my running for all these years, and they deserve to see the fruits of their support now and again. I'm running it for all of my Badwater crew members, past and present, because no matter how well I run there, they always deserve better. I'm running it for the other competitors, because I owe it to them to contribute to the challenge of the event, to push them to their limits.
So for all of those reasons, I'll spend the next two weeks running in whatever heat I can find, packing up the various and sundry clothes, shoes, and gadgets that make this sort of expedition possible, and mentally preparing to go back to that dark place for many hours in the hot desert sun. Because this year, Badwater isn't about me. And it's only because this year, Badwater isn't about me, that I'll make it to that finish line.
(And if that was, "too much f***ing perspective," a la Spinal Tap, just wait a few days - maybe until next week, at the latest, when I'm sure that I can come up with something much more whimsical; hours and hours in the heat make me downright silly.)