Saturday, March 12, 2016

When Nightmares become Reality

The Yellow Gate PC: Sherpa John

Yesterday, I received an email that began as follows:

dear eric;
it is my unfortunate duty to inform you that your name has been selected for the 2016 barkley marathons, to be held on april 2-4, 2016, at frozen head state park, in the state of tennessee, usa.

it is anticipated that this enterprise will amount to nothing more than an extended period of unspeakable suffering, at the end of which you will ultimately find only failure and humiliation. 

And the encouragement continues for a few more paragraphs......

It all started a few months ago when I wrote the following essay, as part of my application to be considered for entry to the Barkley Marathons:

I’ve thought long and hard on what I should write for this essay.  Should I make a list of all my running and physical accomplishments?  Should I be clever and witty? Maybe I could wax long about my incredible mental toughness? An idea would be to detail the rigorous, strenuous and over the top training program that I am putting myself through to prepare.  Did I mention that I am friends with Jared Campbell and he will surely enlighten me with his top secret, sure-fire, guaranteed recipe for Barkley success?
The reality is, I really have no business attempting the Barkley Marathons.  I’m not more talented than most of the runners, I don’t have an extra-ordinary amount of grit and gumption (compared to everyone else “Out There”), my training program is probably less involved than most, and while Jared is a good friend, his only top secret advice is to be down to earth and brutally honest about how difficult The Barkley is and what his own short comings are.
I have been intrigued with Barkley since Jim Nelson first told me about it while we ran a portion of my first Wasatch 100 together in 2005.  I have dreamed (nightmared) about it since Jared told me he would be attempting it for the first time in 2012.  I shed tears and shared in the accomplishment of some incredible feats of endurance as I read your Tethered report of John, Jamil and Alan completing a Fun Run with minutes to spare in 2014.
And that is the moment, while reading Tethered, walking a slow, painful, 2 mph, ankle reconstruction recovery pace on a treadmill in my basement, that is the precise instant, when I knew that one day, through your graces or not, I would stand at the Yellow Gate, ready to get the living hell squeezed out of me.
That is Why.
The lottery was held, and I found myself at #11 on the wait list.  That's a pretty good spot to be in, but there was no guarantee that it would get me there.  I started training like I was in, and as the weeks went by, I began to wake in the middle of the night, with feelings of panic, wondering what in the world I was doing, putting myself into this situation, and how I would ever be prepared. 
Which brings me to last night. The Letter of Condolences. And that's when the Nightmares became Reality.  
If you don't know much about the Barkley Marathons and would like to learn more, here is an excellent website, and here is an excellent 20 minute documentary

1 comment:

LEWIS said...

Disagree with your grit self-assessment here. Squeeze some hell out Storheim!