I drove past Sugarhouse Park today around 4 pm. I felt like I was driving by the house of the girl I had a crush on in High School. I slowed down, stared longingly at the scene of excitement in progress, then resignedly kept driving, forcing my eyes back to the road and accepting the lump in my chest that I recognized as heartache.
Wasatch has shaped my life and influenced me far more than I thought was possible since my first fling back in 2005. I ran my first Wasatch thinking it would be a grand adventure to be crossed off the list, and then I could get back to my current passions of the time-bowhunting, fishing and Rugby. Instead, those have all taken a back seat and regardless of the other races and adventures I have mapped out for the year, my predominant daydream seems to revolve around that magical weekend following Labor Day.
The pre-dawn excitement, beauty of first sunlight over Chinscraper, popsicles at Swallow Rocks. The surprising surge of emotion and tears as I hear the first hint of cow bells coming into Big Mountain, never mind that it's only been 10 hours since I gave Brooke a sleepy good bye kiss as I slipped out the door-late as usual-to meet my ride. Reminiscing about the big bull elk I bugled in the last time I bowhunted Alexander Ridge. An ice cold towel on the neck at Lambs, cooling off on the beautiful climb to Bear Ass Pass, stopping to look at the trout under that one bridge up Millcreek, getting teary again at the AWESOME posters of my kids that Brooke puts on the Millcreek road. Sunsets on Red lovers Ridge, pacers gently (sometimes forcefully) reminding me to eat, drink and do it again. Projectile vomiting whole grain PB&J at Scott's Pass, sleep running the road down Guardsman's, in and out of Brighton-assisted by an awesome crew- as quick as possible to stay out of the "Morgue". Inspired by some good tunes and turning down a Corona with good friend and savior of my first Wasatch, Preston, while he hangs out at the "Beach" below Sunset Peak. Getting my 5th wind heading to Ant Knolls, the excitement of lights in front of me and getting closer while circumnavigating Forest Lake, the dread of seeing lights behind me and getting closer at the same time, and then the last "big" climb to the Point of Contention. Lukewarm "hot" chocolate at Rock Springs, dust in the headlamp = blind running down The Plunge, Irv's Torture Chamber-need I say more? Pot Bottom and "3 runner's left here in the last 5 minutes, get out of here!!". The never-ending rocky road, sharp left hand turn onto the sweet last mile of single track, pacer yelling"I told you we'd catch someone on the road, now it's time to sprint!". 10 minute mile sprint, onto the grass, out of gas and collapse. Elation, exhaustion, hugs, back slaps, rush to the garbage can to puke and then...... Contentment.
I won't be feeling those emotions first-hand this year, but the sweet memories are enough to get me through the Wasatch Blues.
To Greg, Peter, Rich, Brian, Brian, Ben, Jared, Pete, Seth, Bob, Mark, Jason, Sarah, Derek, Ken, David, Wayne, Troy, Jim, Ernie, Tony, and everyone else. Thanks, and good running.