Ouch: Back-to-back 20 milers

Last weekend I ran back-to-back 20 milers. It wasn’t as dreadful as I expected, at least not the beginning. In fact, I very much enjoyed the first 20 miler, most of which was run over the Tucson Mountain Park trails. The sun was shining, I felt strong, my legs felt strong; it was one of those days where I felt as if I could run forever.

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Then the second day arrived. And the sun wasn’t shining and my legs didn’t feel so strong, and I didn’t feel so strong, either; I most certainly did not feel as if I could run forever. I felt crappy in the beginning and perked up around the eighth mile, and from then on it was pretty smooth until I hit mile 17. And my legs died. They fell off. I’m not sure how I ran the last three miles with completely dead legs but I managed. I just tucked my mind away and kept on moving. It was raining hard by then, and dark, and that little circle of light from my headlamp kept leading me forward to one more step, and then one more. It’s funny how when you run in the dark your headlamp light becomes a friend, you almost love it, you feel so close to it, there’s nothing else around but darkness and that tiny light.

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When I got home I ate everything in sight, and I mean everything. My stomach was a gaping hole; it was impossible to feed it enough. It was ridiculous. (How in the world do elite ultra runners afford to eat?)

I finished the week with 74.70 miles and I’m fairly certain that I ate close to 74 tamales, too. (The green chili tamales down here are to die for.)

This weekend we’re running the Tucson Trail Runner’s Vicious Circle and Half Circle Ultra Urban Adventure, which features a 45 and 22 mile run around the city’s bike paths, washes, tunnels, etc., and ends with an “I’m Not Dead Yet” celebration where there will be, you guessed it, more tamales.

It’s odd being in the desert after living in Alaska. Everything is so exotic, so light and airy and open. The landscape feels more gentle and forgiving, though I know that that’s an illusion. Because guess what else we saw on our run? Mountain lion scat. If you look close you can see pieces of animal fur, probably rabbit, poor thing.

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And here’s a photo of one of my favorite cactus plants, I love how jumbled the arms look. It’s a fitting metaphor for these very odd and surreal political times, no?

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