The last mile of Swan Crest … it was miserably hot, I thought I was gonna pass out from a heatstroke, and I walked very slowly towards the finish line. No one was behind me, so I wasn’t in a hurry … my spirit was gone, and I simply lacked any mental energy to get myself to speed up. Usually I put in at least a few hundred yards of finish sprint in … I think I mustered ten. But as soon as I was at the finish, I was grinning, talking smack and generally happy – it’s the one thing I’m pretty good at: pretending it never happened. Good so, because it caught the attention of Jill (who I noticed immediately but I thought was too cute to be interested in me) who struck up a conversation after Danni introduced us. Very quickly it came up that Jill had done the Tour Divide – and suddenly a lot of clicks happened in my head – earlier at Bighorn I ran with Leslie (who is a good friend of Jill’s) who told me about the Tour Divide, this crazy mystical race that only insane ultra-athletes can even begin to understand, and only the hardest-core thereof can finish, and a friend of hers who had done it (Jill, of course). I was immediately star-struck … when Jill expressed interest in running 100 milers, I scoffed – “You could do one tomorrow!”. I scoffed because I know people – especially myself – with a fraction of her prowess who can do it. I even went so far to try to talk her into doing one the following week (and I still think she could have done that …). And I didn’t even realize she holds the woman’s course record on the Tour Divide until much later!
Since then I’ve had the privilege to see her up close, and I have to say she’s even more impressive than I thought. But then I became somewhat suspicious – how could this be real? Let’s look at the facts I gathered during her short run training. I think of myself as a somewhat accomplished endurance runner at least in terms of finishing stuff, so I’ll contrast my own experiences:
|Complaining||Wine & Cheese award at HURT||Never. Ever|
|Rest day||Maybe an hour on the trainer||I got lost and ended up running 4 hours. Felt great though.|
|Weekly average||10 hours||20 hours|
|First ultra run||See below||50 miles on NO training. Minor foot problem that quickly disappears|
|First ultra race (50k)||well trained, 7:15, unable to walk the next day||3 weeks of some run-training, 6:58, no soreness|
|Time between first ultrarun and first 100m||10+ months||2 months|
|General endurance||Gets tired after 4 hours||Warms up after 4 hours|
|Temerature sensitivity||Gets slow in heat and cold||Claims doesn’t like heat, but unable to prove it|
|Final thoughts in a race||Thank god its over. Where’s the bed?||Sniff. It’s over already???|
On a more serious note, it needs to be said that I am not exaggerating Jill’s extreme endurance – she is simply impossible to keep up with. She challenges herself constantly. And beyond the pure endurance part I found her to be one of the most successful people I’ve ever met – although she loves to write about her occasional mishaps and unpreparedness – in the end she actually has everything under control, knows what she wants and succeeds in almost everything she sets out to do, and lives her life with a clarity and purpose that I have rarely seen in my life. She really is much more awesome than her blog conveys – and all of this while being the most down to earth, nice, beautiful and intelligent person you could imagine. Which makes me the luckiest bastard in the world. Yeah!