|Photo by Paul Smith|
Let me lead the way because I understand the dark:
How light and dark enhance each other, how they need each other to exist. How easy it is to lose your footing, how quickly the ground will pull you down. I’ll show you how to get back up fast before it buries you. Let me lead the way.
I’m breathing the mountain: hands on quads, pressing my legs hard into Hogs Back, the rough, rocky and steep ascent leading up the first climb of this 100 mile race. The climb is so steep and rugged that runners weave in and out of paths merging and blending. In the night you can’t see where I begin and the dark ends, or where the dark starts and I end.
Energy is high right now, but give it another 12 hours & this climb will break runners, it’s armor too tough for their minds to get through, turning them around in their tracks, back to the aid station to turn in a bib. But that’s not an option for me, that girl doesn’t exist anymore. The inky dark highlights cheekbones, deltoids, quads and bones that were broken and will never be the same. Once you break you can’t go back. You only know this when you experience the trauma.
Sometimes I think my night lasts longer than others.
The longest moments are between the roosters call when the night is so dark that two lights barely cut through it, one light on my waist, one on my head. The moment draws slowly toward a light glow on the horizon when dark and light are still one, both exist simultaneously. ⠀
Under the surface of my skin a fire burns so hot that sweat flows even in the dark night. Strong wind clanks bamboo fiercely, like a sword battle & I’m running through a tunnel of these swords, protected amidst the storm and violence. The wind howls so loud I pull my headphones off & they grip my neck.
I’m not a runner in a race anymore, I’m an animal in the forest and my arms instinctively spread out, palms up and open to the night sky, chin up, mouth open and howling with the wind, just a little bit of glowing skin highlighted by stars & a lifting night, glistening sweat, a world amidst a world.
Photo: Paul Smith
HURT 100 1/18/20