I am not an elite athlete.
I am not running this race to win.
I am not hoping for prizes, fame, or glory.
I am running this race for me. Because I made a commitment to myself that I would start, finish, and breathe each breath of the race with joy, determination, and every ounce of Buchanan pride I can muster. Because Ross made me believe that I could do anything I put my mind to. Because dreams are not meant to be hazy, wispy fragments. They are meant to be cupped in warm hands. Nurtured. Loved until they are tattered. And then set free.
And with every training run I make with the animals, the importance of what I am doing becomes clearer. This is not about running. This is not about pulling a pack animal. This is about participating in a tradition. About learning from a 600-pound animal who can teach me more than I know.
This is about working through the pain. About going when I want to stop. About using my lungs to both breathe and encourage. About teamwork. About trust.
This takes discipline - consistency with the burro so he knows what you expect, so he understands consequences and learns what you want.
This takes patience. When Rambo is walking at a painfully slow pace, I cannot give the lead to one of my teammates. In the words of Shania, I have to dance with the one who brought me. It is my responsibility to go the distance with Rambo.
This takes compassion. There comes a point when using the lead to smack Rambo's butt is ineffective. Sometimes it works better to take the burro's head in my arms and rub his nose and let him know we are a team.
This is about perseverance. Commitment. Determination.
9 miles today in Idaho Springs with the best teammates one could ask for - Brad, Amber and Bill, and the four-legged ones Rambo, Firecracker, Thumper and Stormy. Sage burro-runners that they are, my human companions have already mastered skills like patience (while they waited for me as I wrestled with Rambo), compassion (as they encouraged me through my breathlessness), discipline (as they demonstrated the best techniques to motivate my slow ass), and perseverance (as evidenced by the completed 9 miles).
The scenery was incredible. Bill, as usual, talented storyteller and wealth of knowledge that he is, provided rich tidbits of history about tent villages and old miners as we wound along the trails.
I know I've said it before, y'all... but this is the real deal. This is touching and breathing and tasting and feeling the grit and dust and mosquito bites of the real world.
And it is divine.
Even when you are draggin' ass for 3 hours. Even when you feel nauseated and exhausted at the end. Yes, even then.
Photos to follow...