October 14th, 2019
Life in the Alaska Dome and Life in General - 48 Hour Race Report
Monday August 4th, 2014
My sister lives in Anchorage, 3 miles from the Alaska Dome. She is a psychology professor at the University of Alaska. When Joe discussed his plans to have the event in the Dome, my ears perked up. I did not know then that the Dome was practically in my sister's backyard and that she used to attend Changepoint Church, the congregation responsible for construction of the Dome. It caused a rift in the church, with members wondering why a church would get involved in running a sports complex and why the state would provide a grant to make it possible.
Politics in all things, even those supposedly done in the name of God, or maybe especially those things, judging from history...
So Joe, in a way, inspired my first visit to Anchorage last summer to see my sister and run the Moose's Tooth Marathon, ironically 6 days after knocking tooth #9 clean out (for the dentally-inclined on the list) on the Hallucination 100 course while training last August. Jan Silverman also played a part, suggesting we run the marathon. I had not seen my sister in the flesh in 8 years.
I told my sister, Mari, about the planned 6 day run. She told me all about the Dome. Jan and I did a recovery run at the Dome the day after the marathon last summer. In 5 miles I didn't notice how hard the surface is :)
I planned to run VS with a goal of 5 days this year. But I so wanted to be a part of the Dome run and visit my sister once again that I asked if I could run the 48 hour. I was proud of myself for being "smarter" than in the past and not jumping in on the 6 day, though the tug was there. "The visit with my sister is the priority and I will still be tired from Vol," I told myself.
Little did I know...
No regrets - I had SO much fun seeing friends, meeting Brandon, Joel, K-G, Martha, Dot, Mary Ann, and many others, and witnessing the Falboian effort (credit to Case). As far as my own "running", my feet were still tender from VS, especially the left which took the brunt of the camber, the rumble strips, the jumping on and off the road, and the mild ankle sprain when I imagined a semi was hell bent to mow me down and I catapulted myself over a sloping embankment. Imagine my embarrassment when I realized he never even saw me and it was dark so if Val was chuckling, I will never know... All he said was, "I wondered what you were doing when your light disappeared."
And then there was the time I had to wrestle my left foot from a pit bull's jaws -- just kidding!!!
So my feet hurt. And I was tired and I had to take a lot of naps in the Dome. That is my excuse for "bailing" on the 48 hour and I'm sticking to it! The other reason is the siren call of my sister's very comfortable duplex, where we occupied the lower level for the week. I turned in my chip to Dave after hitting about 100 miles to make it a hundo at least (and that took about 32 hours!).
I said I might return in the last hour or two the next morning, but no one, including me, really believed that...
But I did return with about 2 hours left in my race and picked up my chip. I walked a lap with Dan, then decided to try to run. I had the most fun running that 2 hours, adding about 12 miles to finish with a total of 112.82. Some didn't know I was missing all night and wondered how I was running well again. Sharon Gaytor commented that I looked like a different person. I was a sorry, exhausted, limping mess as I left the Dome with my tail between my legs the night before... No regrets.
I also got to witness the highlight of the "Falboian effort". Tracy's story and the resilience of the human spirit to overcome obstacles is one that should be told to inspire us all who think we can't make changes in our life. Congratulations, Tracy!!! She is a super friendly person and It was great to get to know her a little at the gathering on Sunday.
As Gary said, every 6 day runner has a story. I like to socialize. I could write a thesis on what I learned about other runners and crew at the Dome, ones I "know" and those I met for the first time. I hesitate to share because not everyone is an open book and I try to respect that. But I will take my chances with a few - I have issues :)
Jameelah is posting on FB, so probably no secret that she left a BS job before this run. She was worried about the expense and almost cancelled her run. Jameelah has friends, lots of friends. She has 5 children. She has family. Everyone encouraged her to go. While at the Dome she gets a call for a job and has a phone interview, post previous interview. Forgetting the time difference, she calls her prospective boss at 3AM! She gets the job! I ask how she explained. "I told him I was vacationing in Alaska." Probably best not to be too honest just yet :)
Her cute little daughter, Maryam posts on FB, "Keep running Mommy. Run to your heart's content and God will not let you down." How old is that girl??? :)
Then there is K-G. His name is Karl Gustav and he is proud to be the only Swedish rep here. He ran an Olympic qualifying time on a relay team in 1960. He speaks his mind and I always like that. He once told another 6 day runner who was acting out that he would discipline her if need be. He relayed the information in a language common to them both (I am not referring to profanity but a real language!) and she promptly responded, "You dumb Swede!!!"
I will not name the runner but she is dear to us all in the multi-day dysfunctional family - in her own unique way. As Jameelah said on one of my later visits to the Dome, "I have learned to accept people for who they are and love them for the good and the not so good." A little bit of author's license there, but it is basically accurate :)
Isn't that one of the beautiful things about the ultrarunning family? We accept and love each other for who we are. We also butt heads but that is all part of love...
And then there is Ed and Martha... Ed takes the extra steps to high five the kids lined up against the rail in the spectator area. Games and activities go on all day in the turf area of the Dome. The kids stop to watch and cheer. Ed goes out of his way to show his appreciation. Enough said. Martha works by his side between races in their business, she supports him in his pursuit of his dreams and his goal to top Liz Bauer's record of most 100s in one year. Ed chooses Badwater and a few weeks later a 6 Day for #22 and #23. Enough said...
As Gary said (Roy now knows that Laz and Gary share a personality and are not 2 different people), there are many stories to be told of these 6 day runners.
God help us if there were two of them :)
I am rooting for each and every one off you on the track in your final day - Mark, Bill, Joe, Liz, all of you who have prevailed when others of us have reached an exit point.
I did not know Jim Nelson, but I have spent the last few days wondering "Why did this happen to the guy who has had near misses,the guy with so much experience climbing?" He wrote an article in UR magazine in 2005 "Inside the List: The Toughest of the Tough" about the age old argument of which race is the toughest. He speaks from the perspective of having completed the toughest ultras. He says, "...there is something enchanting about being alone out in the middle of nowhere when it's so cold your nostrils freeze shut."
He concludes, "...there are many tough races out there, some that even claim to be the 'world's toughest footrace.' For my money though, the toughest footrace of them all is the Nolan's 14ers. Then again, I have not run 400 meters on the track in a while."
I thought this was ironic since he died while Six Days at the Dome was in progress. What he meant though, or so I gathered, was that the toughest race is the one that presents the most challenge to you at the time. I think he met his toughest challenge on Tuesday, when he most likely made a decision or reacted in a way that can never be retracted or changed. Jim was The Toughest of the Tough but sometimes even that is not enough...
Someone posted a poem on the Barkley page that was a comfort even though it can make you cry. It ends with:
Love doesn't die.
So, when all that's left of me is love,
Give me away.
Emotional to a fault but wouldn't change it if I could...
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