Self-reliance and distance running tend to pair up nicely. There is a sort of stubborn pride in me that loves to accomplish lofty goals, “on my own.” I secretly relish in the knowledge that I am completing a training plan and a race by my own efforts.
My first shot of humility came in my Silverton journey when I caved and asked my boyfriend, Tom to pace a tough 19 mile stretch. “Okay,” I thought, “I’m still doing this race on my own…Tom will just be there for a part of it.”
What I did not consider at this time was that asking for (and taking lots of) help was probably the single most important aspect that got me over the finish line this past September:
Around Mile 33 of the Silverton Double Dirty 30: I was trotting along and coming out of a particularly nauseated state. As my stomach settled and the sun began to shine, I picked up my pace on a fun flat section. I was finally feeling more, “with it” than I had in an hour and I hurried along the trail. Suddenly I heard a, “Hey! I think that the course goes this way!” I turn to see two bow hunters looking to their left. I trotted back and gawked at the rushing river before me. Without pause the second hunter asks, “Do you want to borrow our waders?” Let me be clear, “30-something miles ago Anna” probably would have said, “no, thank you.” and then proceeded to trudged through the water annoyed and cold. But this far in (and knowing how far that I had to go) I answered, “Heck, yeah! Man, good timing”
The hunters crossed the river and I braced myself to catch the waders that would keep my feet dry for those 4 miles before I had dry socks (at the next aid station).
Running has this ironic way of giving me exactly what I need. I signed up for a race of over 60 miles in order to challenge my ability to rely on my own physical and mental strength…and what did Silverton give me? The ability to not only ask for help, but to graciously take the help of everyone around me. In the same way that training brings me confidence in myself, racing Silverton gave me confidence in the kindness of those around me.