Unintended Consequences

So tonight I wrote a running friend down in Austin whom I hadn’t heard from in a while. He’d been injured last year but minutes ago I got his email that he’d mended up just fine.

Hey, Wes. So good to hear from you. I’m healthy again, if slower. I did a 50 miler in early October here in Texas (trail) and am actually doing the San Antonio marathon this Sunday–pacing a friend. 

That’s excellent. I had told him that a posse of my friends was heading down in February for the Austin Marathon or Half. I know he’s run the race countless times and that he’s Aces when it comes to welcoming visitors to his funky little corner of the world. Sure enough, he rolls out the red carpet:

Feel free to put your ATX-bound friends in touch with me. The new course here  is kinda hilly and weird but fun. I may run it, if only to be with friends. What else is running for? 

This guy is the bee’s knees, let me tell you. But then he says something that changes everything. Suddenly, I am not the runner I was minutes ago. Suddenly I have a practical way of undertaking a challenge I’ve only read about and never dreamed of doing.

At the moment my primary ambition is to run the Grand Canyon “rim-to-rim-to-rim”–a group of us are going in early May. It’s 48 miles. If you are interested, there is room. Serious. 

Oh man. It’s probably too much for me, 10,000 feet in elevation change, serious altitude adjustments, it takes folks 14 or more hours, and it can kill you. Probably will never happen for me but, still, suddenly this guy’s got a pipe dream . . .

Update: After posting this note in our running club newsletter last week, I hear from another running friend, Rachel, from somewhere on the left cost:

Just do it. The 48 miles fly by because it’s so freaking cool. 

She includes a link to this account she wrote in Runners World of her R-2-R-2-R journey shortly after her mom’s death. And then she adds,

I only wish I could go back under better emotional circumstances. But even so, it was pretty great.

Fuel to the fire, in other words.