A Visit from St. Sebastian (The North Face Endurance Challenge Series – Princeton, MA)

‘Twas the night before race day, in the Airbnb we rented

I think of all of the experiences that I have documented

Of the three races in this training cycle, this one is my last

And if I’m being quite honest, the time went by fast

It felt just yesterday we were in Cape Cod

Where I completed the Chowdah Challenge, then started this blog

When I outlined my race schedule upon returning to my hacienda

I’ll be frank with you: this one wasn’t on the agenda

But if I’m to run fifty miles three weeks after New York City

I knew I needed to run a trail race, or the results wouldn’t be pretty

So just a month after running a race hosted by DICK’S Sporting Goods

I packed some Tailwind in my hydration pack and headed for the woods

But to understand my mind state while I’m being reflective

I feel it’s important to give you a full retrospective

Of these last seven months, for they’ve truly changed my life

The good times certainly, but also the struggle and strife

My training has taken me to a ton of new places

But my life’s been in neutral, and it’s mirrored my races

True that in the half marathon I almost got a personal best

But in the time I wasn’t running, I was actually quite stressed

It was mostly in part due to my commute and career

But in all those pensive training miles, I uncovered a darker fear

Am I fooling myself?  Am I just a charade?

It’s hard to be a runner/writer when you’re really just afraid

I keep dumping more pressure onto my shoulders

But you can’t really lose focus when you’re scrambling up boulders

On the road, it’s easy to get lost in your own mind

But on trails, daydreaming more often puts you on your be-hind

So on second thought, let’s keep this poem more superficial

Or it won’t be a medal I’ll get, but a hospital bill that I’ll have to initial

So to recap: I almost PR’ed at the race in Hampton Beach

And you already know that after this June, I will no longer teach

On that trip we spent most of our time in a tea shop in Maine

With my body feeling great, I just focused on my brain

I was 34th in my group, even though I ran it through slush

And oddly enough, my objective was not to rush

In Pittsburgh I felt that the opposite was true

The distractions were there, and it obstructed my view

The crowd, my job, waking up late on race morning

And then my body cramped up with no signs or no warning

But the mind is a crazy and powerful thing

When I was mindful and present, the cramps didn’t sting

So even though Pittsburgh wasn’t exactly my best showing

The experience gave me a lot of comfort in knowing

That even with many obstacles I am forced to climb

Worst case scenario: I can still finish with an above average time

Nothing major has happened in the short time since then

Though I’m sure you were wondering if I’d update again

I’m saving it mostly for when I start on my book

But once summer comes, I’ll be ready to cook

I’m enjoying my final moments in a classroom with students

And I’ve been meditating so much you would think I was Buddhist

But each session is different, no two are alike

Some at home, some doing yoga, and others when I hike

And sometimes after trail running among wildlife and fauna,

I would hit up the spa and spend time in a sauna

My body seems ready so I gotta mentally prepare

So that my first trail race isn’t a torturous affair

I hope to avoid the dreaded “Did Not Finish”

But even then, such a result cannot diminish

Everything I have learned about myself and this earth

My place in humanity and how I measure my worth

These seven months took me deeper into the rabbit hole

But it hasn’t been just running that has nourished my soul

Music from The National and Tool, comedy from Bill Hicks

As I venture into the unknown, I had to dig deep into my bag of tricks

Because while completing a trail marathon would certainly be nifty

I’ve already done 42 kilometers, why not shoot for fifty?

Yes, it turns out that this will be my first ultramarathon race

When I had planned out my schedule, I didn’t think this would be the case

But it feels appropriate, shooting for this unknown endeavor

Right before I stop working, potentially forever

At this point in my life, this would be the greatest thing I’ve achieved

But to conquer this and more, I just have to believe

The trails can be scary, the unknown even worse

But not living your ideal life, that’s truly a curse

So while many of my peers have been celebrating their college graduations

I skipped out on mine, choosing instead some serious elevation

My search for Ponce De Leon’s soul and his mythical fountains

Has led me to forests and trails and breathtaking mountains

Running and writing, this is truly my purpose

A job and society?  I was never meant for that circus

It’s much safer settling for the more travelled road

But when you die with regrets, you reap what you sow

The road less travelled is much more my speed

Even though it’ll be harder and I’ll work ‘til I bleed

But I know I can achieve anything I want to accomplish

The holes I’ve pulled myself out of already would truly astonish

So even though I know I will always have slim chances of winning

Spiral out motherfucker – this is just the beginning

No matter the odds, never go down without a fight

Happy race day to all, and to all a good night!




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