Monday, September 7, 2015

Iron Mountain 2015 part I



It all happened so fast. I had just passed some fellow competitors and increased my pace going down a narrow single track trail through the woods when WHAM. I hit the ground so hard I'm pretty sure I went into a bit of shock for a few moments. I don't even remember beginning to trip or the actual fall itself... just parts of the immediate aftermath.

My watch snapped off and sunglasses skipped a few times down the trail before coming to a stop. Then, a complete, an eerie silence. Until those same runners came bounding down the trail and asked if I was ok?  I spit blood out of my mouth, took my dirty, cut up hand and rubbed my face to try and feel how bad it was. Then I gingerly pushed myself up and onto my feet. Not sure if I could even stand, let along walk, or gosh even run? 

My heart was beating fast. I took a few easy steps, and a few more down the rocky, root strewn trail and realized, relatively speaking I was alright. I had a dirty face, belly and chest. And a fat upper lip, but nothing broken, and only a couple of bruises, including a bit of my ego and pride. And after a short walk I started to slowly run again. My left leg was quite sore but able to move in the normal range motion I needed it to be able to in order to run. So I carried forth.

For that's the nature of an ultra. They are full of challenges, twists of fate, highs, lows, and seemingly everything in between. They contain innumerous tests of willpower. I could have called it a day but I didn't. I moved forward. A step at a time. Sometimes quite slowly, and quite painfully. But I didn't quit. Though my brain periodically reminded me of that option, my heart and spirit wouldn't allow for it. The running gods helped pull me through, as did my fellow competitors. I hope I helped a few in return. Ultras are truly a "We" sport.

And we were all participants in the Iron Mountain Trail Run September 5 in Damascus, Virginia. 50, 30, and 16 mile options were available. The course predominately uses the Iron Mountain Trail which traverses a rugged section of the spine of the Appalachian Mountains, in extreme southwestern Virginia. The 50 mile race features over 8,000 feet in net elevation gains.

As for myself, I finished the 30 miler in front of the Damascus town park gazebo with a smile on my face. Not as fast as I would have liked, but that didn't matter. What did matter is that I had persevered, and found sublime moments of joy in coping with, and ultimately overcoming the pain. I was able to see the forest through the trees