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Middles and Endings.

27 March 2018

I signed up for my first ultramarathon. It will be a 50 km (31 mile) trail race near Bellevue, WA, in a park called the Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland. We’ll run over and around both Cougar Mountain and Squak Mountain. There will be a vertical gain of some 7500 feet. Nearly a mile and a half. I’m already excited an nervous. And yet there’s six months between now and then. Plenty of time to get fit and ready. And I feel confident that I can do it. It’ll be hard and painful.

My new office mate taught me about type 1 fun and type 2 fun. Type 1 is when you’re having fun during a thing, like a rollercoaster, or a fine dinner, or whatever. Type 2 fun is when you the thing itself is challenging and difficult, but afterwards you feel gratified and happy. That’s endurance running. And I think it’ll be a lot of type 2 fun.

One reason I wanted so badly to sign up for this today was to do something life affirming. My father has been moved to hospice from the ICU. He’s dying. How fast, no one knows. But sooner rather than later. I don’t have the emotional energy to write about it. Suffice to say I owe both my sisters an enormous debt of gratitude for being there for him, over and over again, in his life when I wouldn’t or couldn’t.

I am in the middle of my life. Realistically very close to the middle indeed. And my father is dying. Far away. If I hadn’t just begun a new job, I would go there. I’d just go there and wait and be there when he died. Instead, he will die without me. And that’s ok. It will have to be. That’s the way life is, and the way life ends. We don’t get to make choices all the time. In the end, we don’t get to make any.

But  I get to choose how I will live. I get to go run. Over mountains and through valleys and through mud and streams and among the tall trees of these forests. I will throw myself against the mountains with whatever I can muster in myself. And maybe that will help me connect to the part of me that finally, after all these years, has become a man.

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