April 13, 2020

Dear Wild Oak

Dear Wild Oak,

It’s me again.

I know it’s only April and your invitation to come try your 112-mile, 30-some-thousand-feet-of-incline party isn’t for another 6-plus months yet, but I thought I’d check in anyway.

We’ve been dance partners on and off for almost 30 years now, you and me. You know how badly my record-keeping sucks so I’m totally spitballing here, yet I think it reasonable to postulate that I have covered at least, what, 3,000 miles out there. As you know, 97% of that has been 1 loop at a time. And most of it happened when I was a whole lot younger and faster than I am these days.

We’ve had our times, you and me. You’ve most definitely thrown me a bone or two across the decades. You’ve seen me at my best. And over and over again, you’ve made my whimper and come oh so close to breaking my spirit.

I’ve driven off from you after 1-loop training runs sure that I am invincible. And then, fall season after fall season, I’ve slunk away after 1 or 2 loops thinking that the mountains just aren’t my jam any more and that I’m just not tough enough any more to eat what you are cooking.

I have attacked you. I have communed with you. I have ignored you until the last minute, as if sneaking up on you might work. I have spent every other Saturday for about a decade with the soles of my shoes making contact with your hallowed turf.

Let us review: In my time with you on the 4-loop format, I am ... 0-for-14? 0-for-15?

I guess what I really mean is, when it's race time, you always lay my soul wide open and leave it on the ground in a heap.
Dude, I have learned some of the most lasting lessons of my four-plus-decades of running at your hands.

Perhaps the best lesson of all: It's only failure if you don't get your ass back out there and try again.

Almost 30 years. Somewhere around enough miles to cross this country. And to think—I haven’t even finished all of your 112 miles in the same race …




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