January 22nd, 2024
Am I Still Superwoman?
By Alyssa Clark
Coming off of my most recent race, I’ve found myself somewhat uncharacteristically down. I kept asking myself what was wrong.
I have no reason to be sad. I’m not injured or really as sore as I used to be post-ultras. I found myself thinking multiple times “oh this time last week I was
eating my pre-race dinner with Codi” or “I was three hours in to the race this point last week.” I think the one I’m not being honest to admit is the most true. “I miss pretending I’m superwoman”.
There is something inherently bizarre about ultramarathon running. I mean who in their right mind would subject themselves to upwards of 30 hours more or less of running virtually nonstop?
After my first HURT 100 in 2017, I was almost completely incapacitated, barely able to walk to the bathroom and vacillated between nausea and a deep hunger so ravenous hangry doesn’t even touch the surface. But I miss it.
I miss it every time because there is something irreplaceable about it. Ultra running seems like my greatest chance to prove I’m invincible. The bounds of supposed human capacity are defied in the face of what we can accomplish. It is possible to endure beyond perceived human limitations and here we are doing it. Running is the closest I come to flying, to feeling the
beauty through my natural motion. No matter how badly it hurts at the low points of 70km or 70 miles, I come back for the raw beauty and breaking of myself so I can rebuild a stronger person.
After most of my longer races, my legs go from full out running, to incapacitated in a matter of seconds. I love that post-race exhaustion as though my legs knew exactly the amount I needed to get across the finish line and now they’re done. The human body truly amazes me. It’s not the few days right after that get me. Those days are filled with the prideful hobble of shot quads and blisters so big I show pictures to those with strong stomachs. The amazement of people’s faces when they hear what I’ve done only solidifies that maybe I did reach superwoman status even if just for a few hours.
The post-race feast fest of eating anything and
everything I desire. The instagram posts of glory crossing the finish line aren’t quite overkill yet. I’ve accomplished that tremendous goal I’ve put months and years into completing. It’s been my part-time job for months. It is my constant companion, a constant source of conversation and constant drive. I’ve looked forward to the post race and the free time I’ll have, but now that it’s
here, I’m not quite sure what to do.
I never anticipated the sense of loss I'd feel even if the race went perfectly. The highs of the accomplishment are fading. I can’t justify the third dinner quite as much. My friends have moved on to talking about important things like the world news or the newest episode of Selling Sunset. I can’t keep posting about it on instagram or facebook without seeming a little sad or like maybe
I’m rubbing it in. And now I’m left with half-healed blisters and recovering quads and it’s over.
Time to fall back to Earth and get back to adult responsibilities. It’s okay though. I’m much more
than a race. I’m much more than that accomplishment. I’m thousands of parts that make up the
whole. And if I know myself, I probably have another three races lined up. I’ll get to pretend to
be super woman again soon.
"I'll get to pretend to be super woman again soon!”
Written by Alyssa Clark