I was operating with the mental and emotional capacity of a four-year-old. Beat had already witnessed my obligatory hundred-miler meltdown, after I started bawling because running made my tummy hurt too much. We connected up with Harry at the last aid station, where he was seriously considering dropping 11 miles (actually 13) from the finish. Steve caught up to us a few miles later, and my mood improved now that misery had company. But I still fixated on how miserable I felt. This is so backward. Why do I always come to these beautiful places just to suffer? And why do these last miles have to be so notably unbeautiful? And why does this dirt road have to be so eternal?
Physical discomfort is real, but misery is a state of mind. I'd fought it off for the better part of 30 hours with the help of the jaw-dropping scenery of the Sunset Cliffs. I'd started to give in because I was bored and ready to be done, but this area wasn't so bad, really. The pine-studded hills reminded me of the high deserts of New Mexico, which led me to recall my happier memories from the Tour Divide. I laughed when I remembered how miserable I'd been when I had food poisoning on the Polvadera Mesa, and how I now look back with fondness on the time I fell asleep in a feverish delirium with my gear strewn all about beneath the ponderosa pines. I'd learned a lot back then, about mastering my own destiny by letting go of the illusion of control. I'm still learning. I couldn't control getting sick during the Bryce 100, but I could decide how much I let that circumstance control me. I'd battled the malaise. It was worth it. I was winning.
"This is the stuff of memorable experiences," I thought. "This is the stuff of life."