The Waitlist: Watching Moab 240 sell out

My friend summed it up best when she described what it feels like to walk through the trauma induced fog she has been in for two years now; she said the best part of her day is those split seconds after she has woken up, but before she has remembered the battle she has to get up and fight yet again. And here I was, on New Years Day 2021, the day we joked that the hell of 2020 would finally end, lying in my bed and feeling my cells buzzing blissfully, oblivious to what was happening outside the moment. I felt light, my body porous and mingling with the dark morning air of a new day. I wanted to stay like that forever.

Cruelly, as soon as that conscious thought floats to the surface, reality slams you right back down with the reminder of the challenges waiting for you when you open your eyes. I was paralyzed. Telling myself to get out of bed, go for a run, enjoy the day with your kids. But I just couldn’t. I was left wishing those first dreamy moments of oblivious peace could come back and carry me through the day.

December proved to be a far harder month then I ever imagined. After a month of clarity seeking in November (My November Project: No Sugar and Run Streak) I was dealt a blow that has changed things pretty significantly for me. I won’t go into details here, but believe me when I say that in true 2020 form, it was all pretty ugly.

After my accident (Northover Ridge to Emergency Room), a friend reached out and said that she had a similar near death experience and that even though she survived, it shifted absolutely everything for her. At the time, I thought that sounded a little extreme, but I now see how true that is. Facing death wakes you up to wanting to live your whole-hearted best life and so suddenly all the things that used to matter, don’t anymore, and you realize that coasting on autopilot isn’t good enough. The universe has a strange way of filtering out all the shit in life that no longer works for you, the barriers in the way of being your true self. Unfortunately, it also leaves in its wake, a whole lot of uncertainty of how to move forward.

And so there I was, New Years Day and not a clue what the future holds. It also happened to be registration day for Moab 240. Ugh.

I first learned of the race when we spent 4 days in Moab, Utah in 2019 while on our way to run Rim2Rim2Rim: Running the Grand Canyon in a Day. We spent our time mountain biking and exploring with the kids. It is absolutely stunning. Otherworldly landscapes like you’ve never seen before and miles of trails just waiting to be explored, so of course I looked up what races were in the area and Moab 240 not only caught my eye but it set my soul on fire. I knew I needed to run it. 240 miles (386 km) in one giant loop around the town of Moab, through several National Parks, through canyons and over mountains with almost 9000 meters of elevation gain. You have 112 hours to do it, and while the race is incredibly difficult, it has a surprisingly high finishing rate, likely due to the generous cut off time. If you can keep moving forward and keep your head in the game, you have a decent chance of finishing. It’s been my goal race for over two years now and is what has been driving me forward, pushing for increasingly high mileage and even motivates me to do some strength work (although still not enough!) I need to do this race. That is non-negotiable for me.

I briefly considered jumping in to do it in October 2020 after our plans for the year were turned upside down anyway, however the logistics of travel during a pandemic and all our uncertainties and instabilities quickly shut that dream down. That’s ok, the plan was always 2021 anyway right?

Yet there I lay, January 1st, my body buzzing, and my heart an open wound, and I watched race registration fill up in minutes and my dream race sell out. Yet another plan by the wayside.

I know it was the right thing to do. I know that jumping into such a commitment would be irresponsible with so many uncertainties, no idea how to pay for it, who would come with, or how the pandemic would affect events and travel by that time… I knew that despite my best intentions, it was just not something I could responsibly justify or control. At least not for now.

I added my name to the waitlist instead…I’m #93 in line. And while a lot of people get in off the waitlist due to the nature of these sort of massive events and the training and commitment they require, getting in from #93 is pretty unlikely and could be a very last minute offer if it does happen. As sad as it was to admit that the wait list is the best option for me right now, I trust that if it is meant to happen, I’ll be ready (oh yes, I am still going to train as though I’m running a 240 mile race this year!) and if it’s not meant to happen, then there is always the hope that better years ahead will remove those uncertainties and I will be able to go in fully prepared.

Maybe being on the ‘Waitlist’ is a good way to describe where I’m at right now. Sort of cocoon period where I can go to rest and renew before meeting my new self, whatever that will look like. Thankfully, running remains a constant in my life; the quickest and easiest way for me to find my center, to connect, to rejuvenate. Many ultra runners have stories of overcoming incredible adversity, paradoxically using running to deal with those situations, and using those situations to improve their running. On a text exchange with a friend on New Years Eve I shared that I was struggling to see the way forward, and that getting to the other side felt like an incredibly long road. Her reply was perfect:

“You’re good at long roads. And you’re not alone”

So I guess I’ll happily sit on the waitlist, in more ways then one, and just keep moving forward as best I can with what I know for now. Maybe a really long run through the Utah desert will get to be a part of that forward motion. Maybe not. And maybe that’s ok.

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