Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chasing Dreams

I just got word that one of this year's Badwater runners completed a quadruple crossing of Death Valley, summiting Whitney twice, for a total of 584 miles. So far. He is now about to start on his fifth crossing. To my knowledge, no one has ever done a quintuple crossing before.

Most people don't understand why someone would want to do that, and I can't put myself inside of Danny's head or his heart but I think I can understand the drive to do it.

Danny said he was running in honor of his father who died from complications related to prostate cancer recently. His cousin was the sole crew person for him on the last three legs of the journey.

When I reached the finish line in 2008, despite the condition of my torn up feet, I wanted so badly to turn around and go back across the valley. As I drove back toward home that year, the whole way through Death Valley I dreamed of going back, it seemed like the logical thing to do, to go see the course and experience it in reverse. There is nothing like seeing the sunrises and sunsets and the extremes in between, the colorful rocks and the sky.

Becoming part of the road, part of the heat, you connect with that environment in a way that you cannot explain to anyone unless they've experienced it. But some people do get it.

Teresa Perdue-Hickey, a beginning runner I recently met in Fort Collins, said a beautiful thing about running after she watched the Badwater videos from this year. She said, "I love how running isn't at all about running.. it's about catching up to your spirit and running within that space for as long as you can".

I hope to do a double crossing of Death Valley in the near future. I'd like to do the race again next year but at this point not sure about a double then. It's a possibility, but I might save it for 2014 when I turn 50, it would be a fun way to do a 50th birthday celebration.

Allowing yourself to dream, even in the face of hard times and difficult situations, unhappiness, depression, grief and loss, then finding the window of opportunity to go after those dreams and chase them down, and catch what you can, is what drives some people to achieve the things many people think of as impossible or beyond their limits.

It applies not only to runners but to anyone. Finding a way to move forward, getting caught up in the pursuit of a dream, is one of the most healing things you can do. And it's really a gift, in honor of the people in our hearts, who inspired us in the first place.


Rick said...

Alene--Good post, especially the sentiments in the last couple of paragraphs. Though I haven't yet done an ultra, I can understand the passion to chase a personal dream, even if (especially if) others think it's nuts. You have only to answer to yourself.


Alene Gone Bad said...

Thanks Rick. Dan Westergaard inspired me last year with his Badwater double. No one had any idea he was going to go this far this year. Death Valley is a magical place. If you ever care to experience it, I highly recommend it in the summer.

imrdrain said...

Dan has inspired me as well. I completely understand the solice and joy running can bring and Dan has reinforced my desire to keep pushing myself.

ps. He finished his fifth time across. Truely amazing

Alene Gone Bad said...

Thanks for your comment, imrdrain. He did finish and it's awesome.