Well, I guess 2021 will go down as a year of “seconds” for me. Second Masters finisher in the Bigfoot Snowshoe 5K and the Singletrack Maniac 50K, and second place overall at the Grandmaster 100K and Loup Garou 60-miler. Like being the best man at four weddings, I suppose.
No complaints, however. For us non-elites, podium spots are most often a case of who shows up and who doesn’t. (And getting lost, or not.) And one wife at a time is enough for me anyway.
Speaking of my wife, I’ve been hinting at her medical issue long enough. So here it is. In 2017, she had surgery to remove cancerous masses from her colon. They thought they’d gotten it all, but earlier this year it reappeared, in her liver this time. So she is undergoing aggressive chemotherapy, with the expected side effects.
The good news is her tumors are shrinking, and after a rough start her body seems to be handling things better. She had enough energy to enjoy Christmas with our family. And we’re doing our best to stay positive. One day at a time, but never looking back.
Naturally, this has affected my plans for 2022, in that I haven’t made any beyond a return to the Grandmaster in February. And due to Omicron’s rapid spread, even that trip is iffy at the moment. With her being immune-compromised, there’s no way I want to contract it even with both of us fully vaxed and boosted. Bummer, but that’s where we are.
Finally, I promised one more story from the Loup Garou. This isn’t so much about a race, but the people I met on the adventure.
My flight to Lafayette, LA was thankfully free of mask rebels, and as it was a regional airport, the rental cars would be onsite with no shuttle ride and long wait in line. That’s been my experience before, and it works great – when there are cars. Which there weren’t. The wait would be several hours to get the cars we’d all reserved. (The reservation was guaranteed, the car was not, kind of thing.)
People handled it okay. The reservation agent was even a bit slap-happy. What could she do? After a bit she reported Hertz had a few “luxury cars” left, so I went there, with visions of arriving at the race in a Benz convertible. It’s my birthday, I deserve it! But by “luxury” they meant monster SUVs, and after asking for the smallest monster, I wound up with a Nissan Armada, which could have comfortably managed an entire relay team.
The agents managed to cut the price from “I’ll call a cab” to “okay, I’ll bend over and squeal” and I had my card out when the guy next to me asked, “Hey, you aren’t running the race on Saturday, are you?” His name was Glen, a real estate agent from Virginia Beach, and he was there to run the full 100-miler.
We split the cost of the beastwagon, and he entertained me with stories about his life in real estate, and his running adventures. “I’m training for the Badwater 135,” he said, “and I’ve already tried out 50 miles of the course.” By himself, setting up his own water stops, one of which disappeared. How he survived is beyond me.
He turned out to be a very handy companion, bringing me dinner when I was stuck in my room attending a Zoom meeting, and taking the cypress swamp photo you saw in my race report post. And after he unfortunately didn’t finish the full 100 miles, we sat around the campfire eating gumbo and chatting with the race staff. Surreal fun at 2:00 a.m.
The running challenge is only one part of ultrarunning’s appeal to me. Experiences like this are another. As an introvert, it’s often tough for me to relate to new people and try new things. The typical ultrarunners and race staffers are so cool and approachable, and so eager to share stories, I feel like a member of the family very quickly. Every ultra has been like that to some degree. As I explained to a fellow run club member recently, “Take your average friendly, laid-back road runner. Multiply it by 10, and you get a trail runner.”
Speaking of, time to brag again. My niece Robin, who I got a couple runs in with over the holidays, has signed up for her first 50K, the Dirty 30 in Colorado next June. I’d love to run it with her. We’ll see how things go.
Guess that wraps up 2021. Have a safe and happy New Year, everyone!
P.S. You may have noticed that my blog has a new name and look. Yes, you are in the right place – the blog formerly known as Run Bike Throw.
I’ll explain the change in an upcoming post, but in the meantime I’d appreciate any thoughts you may have on it. If you read this blog on a cellphone, is it easier to read? Do you have thoughts on the new name? More to come!