Why So Antsy?

Tomorrow is the end of my “no strenuous activity for seven days” purgatory. It’s sucked.

On Saturday, I walked to the grocery store. Round trip, it’s about seven miles on foot. I ended up with a thirty-pound pack on the return trip. In my mind, that’s not strenuous, so I was still following the doctor’s advice. (The Hubs is unconvinced my activity was not strenuous, but I’ve suffered no ill effects from my folly.)

I did a couple of things last week that required me to be awake in the wee hours of the morning. I volunteered for an ultramarathon trail run. Because we don’t have kids and because I have a relatively flexible work schedule, I agreed to work an overnight shift. My shift was 11 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday, at an aid station where the trail crossed a rural highway. More on the event to follow.

Because I knew I’d be awake those crazy hours Friday night, and because I’ve never had the opportunity to stand the Vigil at the Altar of Repose before, I signed up for the Vigil Thursday night.

The Vigil at the Altar of Repose comes from the story in the Gospels about the evening Jesus was arrested: after the Passover meal, he went to pray. He took his three closest friends with him, but as he approached where he wanted to pray, he told them, “Wait here.” He came back an hour later to find them all asleep. He woke them, and asked, “Can’t you wait with me for one hour?’ (Serious paraphrase there – don’t look for that in any of the Gospels.) He told them to remain awake and alert, then he went away again to pray. An hour later, he found them asleep.

There’s a service the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates Jesus’ arrest. The congregation isn’t dismissed with a blessing, as usually happens in Episcopal services. Just as Jesus’ followers did, the group disperses. The end of the Maundy Thursday service is when the Vigil at the Altar of Repose begins; the Vigil ends with the Good Friday service at noon the next day. People are asked to come pray for an hour, just as Jesus asked his followers to do the night before he died.

I stopped by the church Thursday evening to see what slots were left. Two a.m. to four a.m. were open. I signed up for two a.m., and figured I’d see if I could make it until four a.m.

After I’d been there a bit, I figured it’d been about twenty minutes. It’d been almost an hour already; I knew at that point I’d be fine waiting out the second hour.

I spent much of the time reading and reflecting. The topic that captured my imagination the most is what was going through the minds of Jesus’ followers that night. I have the perspective of time and history. When I think of Easter, Jesus’ humiliation and torture at the hands of Roman soldiers is book-ended by his resurrection and a couple thousand years of his new religion growing into the largest religion in┬áthe world. His followers didn’t have that. All they knew is that the man they loved and admired had spent the last month or so talking about being killed, and now he was dead, and there was no clear successor to his leadership role. The Jewish leadership wanted Jesus dead and his followers dispersed; the Romans ruthlessly stamped out any threat to the supremacy of Roman rule. And now there were all alone.

How terrifying was that night? The Gospels describe the men hiding in the upper room on Sunday morning, awaiting their doom as the soldiers came for them next. It was the women who went out the tend to the body of their deceased friend and leader. While Jesus told them he’d rise again, that he’d create a great kingdom, Jesus was dead. They had only their faith to go on.

Were they sitting around planning for the future? Do we pick a new leader? Do we flee out into the countryside? Do we challenge the leadership the way Jesus did?

So, basically, it was few hours of introspective thought – not something I do very often.

Now, back to the race: The only people out on course were the 100-mile runners. Truth be told, none of them were running by the time I saw them. They were on mile 60, in a race that started at 7 a.m. Friday morning.

If you’re interested, here’s a link that includes the elevation profile for the 100-mile race: Badger Mountain 100-mile Race

By virtue of my volunteering, I have a free entry in next year’s 15 km race. Although the races start a short distance from the mountain (to permit the runners to thin out as they approach the trailhead), the bulk of the race course is up and over Badger Mountain – trails I run frequently.

Here’s the thing that’s stuck in my head right now: I kinda wanna sign up for the 50 km. That’s nuts. Batshizzle crazy kinda nuts. I haven’t run a marathon, let alone a 50 km trail run. I’d need to build up a lot of miles over next winter.

Here’s the link to the 50 km: Badger Mountain 50 km

But I think I can do it. I can train by┬árunning Badger repeatedly in one workout instead of just running it once. If I’m more consistent with weight training this summer, I can build my leg strength enough to prepare them for the descents. There’s a 8-hour cut-off, so I’d need to average 15:00/mile or better.

Clearly, I have serious decision-making to do. The smarter thing to do is run the 15 km next year, then decide if I want to jump to the 50 km. But that’s two years away, and I don’t know if I like the idea of waiting that long. On the plus side, if I’m serious about this, I will need to work hard this summer. That working hard will pay its own dividends. If I’m not willing to put in that work now, we know trying to run a 50 km trail run is a terrible idea.

For now, though, I just need to survive another day of not working out.

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