Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Giving Back... AKA... Complete Self-fulfillment! - White Rock Classic 50K - Feb 3, 2018

I would rather stay at home and order in groceries, never leaving the house but to go run a trail.  Unfortunately humans are wired for connection, so this isn't the recipe for the best life I can author.  So that means moving out of my comfort zone is a must to write each chapter of that best life.

With finding AURA, with being scared to death of Chrissy at my first contact with her warning runners not to F with her volunteers, with Lou Patyton and Alston Jennings helping me finish my first playdate with you all, back in the day when the Catsmaker started and ended at Electronic Tower, I found a home.
Running, exercise and even socializing became a bit more manageable, even something to look forward to, imagine that!

Fast forward a few years, I found myself volunteering at the Pumpkin Patch Aid Station for the Arkansas Traveller 100, then Co-Captain of the Pumpkin Patch Aid Station with my husband, then having my hand in putting on a run.

This run desperately needed new RD's or it would have gone into the ash heap of history as some AURA runs have.  Many of the run directors put years, heart and soul into a run.  Life moves forward for us all, they find they can no longer, or no longer with joy host a run.  It is time to move on and help someone else step up and embrace the experience.  It was my turn.

PoDog & Lisa Gunnoe - RD's of the White Rock Classic 50K Photo 2017
Doing this alone doesn't fit into my life.  My husband, Chris, helps keep me from overextending myself, he did that here too.  To have his support in working with this run I had to partner with someone as RD's.  PoDog is the perfect RD partner.  I do the pre-run day organizing, volunteers, Forest Service, Emergency Rescue, etc.  PoDog does the shopping, transport of supplies, and the heavy lifting come race day.

This year was our 5th year working together for this run.  The first year I called him up a week before the run and told him I wouldn't be there.  My daughter was getting married at a county court-house in Maryland on the same day as this run, so he was on his own.  He didn't disown me then and hasn't since.

During the four years I have been out there on race day I have seen a wide array of experiences that keep my love of humanity alive and well.  It has been my great pleasure to see first timers who really didn't think they could but were willing to take the chance, chance everything by toeing up to the starting line.  It has been inspiring to hear the stores of those runners who are so ready to stop  and just roll up in a ball and wait till someone picks them up, but they don't.  They keep putting one foot in front of the other until they cross the finish line.  Finish lines change lives and it changes theirs and I am privileged enough to share that story with them.  They then go home empowered to handle the messiness that is life.  If they can keep going on the trail till they cross the finish line they have the guts to face whatever that thing is in their life that is currently keeping them up at night.

The stories of the aid station volunteers move me to a place of deep compassion and gratitude.  Those volunteers give everything for that day, it is COLD as crazy out there and windy too.  They stay out there and help every runner.  Some volunteers have mostly hung up their running shoes, they are out there to give back to something that gave them so much.  Some are taking a break from running to rest and recover before they dive back in.  Some have never run a step and plan to keep it that way but they are in love with the welcoming family that Arkansas provides "out there".  They show guts and grit and kindness and compassion in showing up to freeze to death to help others complete their goals.

For me, hosting this event isn't about running.  You all have taught me that running isn't about running.  Its about finding the best in life and seizing hold, riding it out and hanging on to see where it goes.  There are bumps, bruises, tears, sweat, cuss words, food, lots of food, hugs, high fives, friends, connections that matter along the way.  I wouldn't change a thing.

Thank you for letting me be selfish in getting so much more out of this than I could possibly put in.  When it comes to gratitude and hunting out the very best things in my life, trail running and AURA has been easy to identify as one of those greatest blessings.