Saturday, February 4, 2012

Melissa Budd; Sinister Seven

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.”   
Christopher McDougall; Born To Run

This is part 2 of a 3 part post.  See previous post for full story.  MB

January  20
Hey Mike,
I have a few minutes, so here is my running "bio"

I have always had some sort of running in my life.  It mostly consisted of running anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour a few times a week at certain times of my life.  I would go for long periods of time with not running, but always seemed to return back to it in some sort of capacity.  I wouldn't consider myself a "runner" in the past however.  I was running to  a) lose weight b) ease my guilt because my friend Krista said we should or c) alleviate boredom.   I didn't really appreciate the true sense of what it is to run.  I somewhat enjoyed it but I did it as a means to achieve something else. 

This changed when I met David Fielder.  David was a teacher at the school where I was just hired.  He was (and remains) a "quirky" individual.  Since I'm drawn to the unusual....we got along great and he became a much needed friend. I found out that David ran marathons.  Not just one or two.....more like 40-50.  I didn't even know how long a marathon was!  Anyway, he told me they were great fun and that I should try one.  I thought he was crazy.....but crazy is kind of fun.  He told me he would help me train by making me a running schedule.  If we started in March (2008) I could run the full in June....there was even the police half in May.  So I started in March.  I followed the schedule he made for me (but did more on the long run days).  He said I would hurt myself - but I was getting so pumped on doing more milage.  I remember hitting the 16 mile mark on a long run - I broke down and cried.  For some reason, reaching 16 miles represented a monumental achievement (even when I run a marathon now - I look forward to mile 16 - sentimental).  In short, the half was hard (but I did it!  time was 2:20 something).  When I ran the Manitoba marathon in June - quirky David made me a "Marathon Virgin" shirt (I've never heard so many people sing "like a Virgin" to me before).  Ever since, I've been hooked!  I ran more and more marathons, with a few halfs here and there.  

Things took more of a turn when David ran the Canadian Death race.  It was a 76 mile run in the Rockies.  THAT sounded impossible!  I couldn't believe he was attempting such a distance.  I wished I was running too.  He finished the race (what an accomplishment).  I had to try one.  I scoured the internet and found an ultra in South Dakota - the Lean Horse 100.  I wanted to try the 50 miler (the 100 mile race seemed too "elite" for me).  I trained by doing doing back to back longruns every week.  The race came.  It was the hardest thing I ever did.  50 miles in 14.5 hours on August 2009 -  slow, but I was so elated to finish.  The next year I tried the 100....again....the hardest thing I had ever done.  I ran the 100  miles in 28.5 hours.  I was hooked in a different way.  When you run all day, "running" takes on a different life.  It is so much different than the marathon.  It is hard to explain - but I would really like to when I have more time.

David and I entered the "Sinister 7" (an ultra in Alberta) last year(2011).  It was my first DNF.  I will have to explain that in more detail when I have more time (I know I already said that).  It was a hard thing to take.  For someone who "never quits", it was a harsh reality check that I wasn't as invincible as I thought I was.  It also clued me into the fact that so much of running is mental.  Once you have checked out mentally - the physical can't compensate.  My body could have taken so much more - but my spirit was broken.  My "Sinister" wound took a long time to heal.  I told myself I wasn't going to do ultras anymore....they were stupid...who runs this much anyway?....I am not going to subject myself to running any longer!  

After the hurt subsided, I realized I was just angry at letting myself get taken out.  I was comparing myself to others in the race and coming up short every time.  I needed to run Lean Horse again.  I needed to run it on my terms.  So, less than 2 months after my DNF, I ran a wonderful race... 100 miles in 24.75 hours (45 min off running 100 miles in a day).  

2011 was also the year that I ran every day, at least six miles, every day.  I ran after my DNF (thank David for that one....he made me do it when I was ready to give up running forever), I ran after my 100 miler, I ran for months in the freezing snow....every day.  I don't know exactly what made me want to do it - probably a "I want to see if I can".....  This last year has certainly evolved my running in so many ways.

Anyway Mike,  I'm not sure if this is what you were going for (or if you just wanted races and stats) but let me know.  I have to go but I look forward to writing more of this down....It is kind of cathartic....
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to experience it.


PS  By the are never to old to run....I look forward to the day when I am like Ed Whitlock or the Fauja Singh - the turban tornado.....who said you can't be 100 and run a marathon!

January 21
Hi Melissa, 
Your story is so interesting and has peaks and valleys. I can't imagine running a minimum of 6 miles a day for six months, but I am intrigued. I know the Sinister 7 was a valley for you, a real deep one, but how you survived is amazing, running the Lean Horse ultra (100 miles) in 24.75 hours two months after your Sinister Seven DNF is a remarkable achievement.

Mile 16 is interesting. You broke down and cried when you first achieved this distance and you still look forward to that marker. It's interesting how we become emotional as the miles increase. What happens to us? I sometimes find my eyes welling up at times when my body and mind are approaching exhaustion. Sometimes, like yesterday, my eyes tear up with the sheer beauty of what lies before me. I become overwhelmed with the moment, it can be so intensely beautiful.  Yesterday, on the river trail, close to sun down, I stopped running and watched a cyclist approach me from about 400 meters away. He was moving very fast, with a huge ball of blinding sun behind him. He was a silhouette. He had a mask and looked like a warrior from another age. Plumes of smoke trailed behind and he was all shiny in the sun and snow. I stood in the middle of the trail as he passed me within inches. Not sure why I'm telling you this....  I look forward to these experiences and I open my mind to receiving them.  Maybe it's the same as your mile 16.

You broke down and cried when you realized you couldn't move forward at Sinister Seven. Can you say more about the moment that you realized you were not able to complete your dream run? As I recall it was around the 45 mile mark, yes? Tell me about the moment you stopped running. Your body and mind and spirit were broken. Can you paint this picture? Maybe it's too difficult a memory? Maybe you don't want to go there, maybe its still too raw an emotion, and that's ok too.

You say "...when you run all day, running takes on a different life. It's so much different than a marathon.".  Yes, for sure it's different. It's an amazing experience I would think. I would love to get into your head on this one. Tell me about that piece of the journey. What goes on in your head, to run in darkness, to be completely exhausted with 40, 30, 20, 10 miles to go. How do you do this? What sustains you? Do you see your life in flashes? Do you learn things about yourself? Again, Melissa, no obligation.

I always knew you had a story tell, I just didn't realize how amazing it would be!

It's a good day to be alive.


PS... Yes, David is a whole other story that needs to be told.  I've got a bit of a hero crush on him, but don't tell him, it'll go right to his head!   ;>)

... to be continued...