I had that sad heart beat.
The tears would have come if I had let them.
I have just seen the last view of the majestical La Palma Island before we head out over the clouds on the flight to Madrid.
What is it about somewhere that attaches and captures you to it?
The terrain. Black. Hard. Tender. Steep. Hot. Unforgiving. Taking. Tender.
The people so sleepy yet wide eyed.
The water. Soothing. Cold. Thrashing. Harmonious. Tranquil.
I have been here 6 weeks. It has become my home. This race has been more than a physical challenge. It has been more than training my mental tenacity. It has been an emotion. I have shared my passion with the rock, the pine needles, the birds. I have felt the sun stroke my shoulders, the rain drops enliven my thigh muscles, the volcanic dust grasp at my ankles, the wind whisper in my ear.
Thursday, May 10th
I move from my drowsy village of Tazacorte to the hype of arriving athletes and media at the Hotel Princess Resort. My ‘family’ have arrived. The Salomon Team in full force as well as the big, beautiful American contingency of similar mountain passion. I am scared. I am anxious. I want to start now. I have been totally confident in my mind and training. I have covered every step of the trail. Some weakness starts to creep into my mind.
Friday, May 11th
The weaknesses are still there. I don’t want to talk about it. But I do want to talk about it. I am not focused on anything. I think about the course. I can almost picture every single stone. My body is longing to go. To be free on the earth that I have been in pursuit of everyday. I want this.
RACE DAY, May 12th
It is 3.46am (I like to wake on even numbers). The atmosphere is buzzing. There will be extremes today. Shouting, hooting, whistling, flashy colours and bright lights as we speed up into the darkness. The head torch lights ooze like magma around the volcano as we divide and find our space, our quiet rhythm and this strange pleasure we are all striving for. I am loving the uphill, I know exactly how hard to push. El Pilar 26km comes quickly. We go back into the extreme of overwhelming support and respect from people of all shapes and sizes. 35km my legs now tire. A slight moment of mind weakness creeps in, “have I gone too hard?” I look up to the enormous rocky ridge and take some energy from the breeze that is fluttering around me. I have just gone there 46km …the Flow. When everything feels right. Time to move. My heart beats hard at 2300m+ altitude and with ardour for each step. 57km extremes. I need water. My friends are waiting there with open arms. I have only got there with them all in mind. With their preservation and will. The next 20km are downhill. It will hurt, but I have learned to love that hurt. To talk myself through it. Weakness. “Will she catch me?” Strength. “Just go!” Extreme. Heat. Heaviness. Happiness. The final slog 77-83km. I have been on these zigzags many times. I know the most polished of the cobble trail. I follow the nicely rounded ones up. Feeling my feet curl around them. I am at the top. I know around the corner there is the extreme. Here, just for these next 50meters I reflect. I am relieved. I have almost done it. I thank the mountain, I think of all who have helped me get to this final km. I take a deep breath and turn the corner. There it is. The finish banner, the streams of supporters, banners and cameras. The noise. The happiness. I laugh, I run. There is no pain. Just fulfillment. I laugh. This has been a journey to live, to love, and to laugh with the mountain.