Brent and I just returned from a walk in the woods with the dogs. These are the same woods that we walk through all the time with the dogs, the same woods that we run through and bike through, the same woods that I’ve lived by for much of my life. But tonight, they felt a little smaller.
We’ve both been feeling a little bit off these past few days, and this evening, surrounded by the trees and the dirt and the mosquitos, it finally became clear why.
People often talk about the sense of malaise that creeps up after a significant event, the letdown they feel after they’ve channeled months of training and energy and focus into that one thing.
I’ve never experienced that before – not after my first marathon, not after my first 6- or 12- or 24-hour adventure race, not after my lone encounter with the Ironman.
Maybe it’s because I always have something else lined up – or because I like planning so much that even if I don’t have something else lined up, I’m excited for the prospect of finding something else to line up. Maybe it’s that my day-to-day is so full and frenzied that I don’t have (or give myself) time to dwell on the experience, to think about where all that time and focus and energy went and what it will take to harness it again.
But this time, it’s different. After a summer filled with adventure – with high-altitude hiking and long-distance biking, and capped off by three days of non-stop wilderness wonderment – now sitting in my house in Philadelphia and getting ready for the start of a new school year, I feel an acute void.
Never have I felt connected to the natural world in such a profound way. Never have I experienced such a close bond with three other people whom I barely knew at the start of the 72 hours – or, for that matter, with the 100+ other participants, many of whom I barely even crossed paths with before, during, or after the race. Never have I been so in tune with my body, so aware of what I was putting into it, of what I was asking it to do – so conscious of the physicality of the experience.
It’s not a reality that can be sustained. It’s grueling. It’s exhausting. In some ways, it’s probably dangerous.
And it’s not a reality that I’d like to maintain at the expense of the rest of my life.
I don’t ever want to be someone who lives for the rare moments only to coast through everything else.
But, man, those rare moments can be spectacular.
And maybe there’s a difference between living for the moments, and lingering over the moments…
Because I have to say, sometimes those moments are worthy of the lingering…
So much for my detailed race report… The hour-by-hour of Untamed is such a jumble, and when it comes down to it, there were too many dirt roads and bushwhacks and moose beds and stream crossings to recount.
For great recaps and photos of the Untamed course from race director extraordinaire Grant Killian (from my limited AR experience, one of the best RD’s around), check out these links:
Untamed New England Leg One
Untamed New England Leg Two
Untamed New England Leg Three
Untamed New England Leg Four
Untamed New England Leg Five
I will link to the rest of Grant’s posts here as they become available.