Wednesday, August 12, 2015

#49 - For My Mom

It's taken me nearly 3 months to collect my thoughts and emotions enough to write this entry. Here goes...

On May 13th, 2015, my beautiful mom - Sheila Kathleen Williams - passed away.

In September of 2014 she was in the kind of shape most 30 year olds would kill for:
In that month she hiked the final 200 mile stretch of the famous South West Coast Path in England ( This was her 3rd trip across the pond to tackle the entire 630 mile walk.
Did I mention she did this last section solo? In less than 3 weeks? At 65 years young?

Sheila was the person who is 100% responsible for instilling a love of the outdoors in me and sharing her infectious adventurous spirit with me since I could walk. I would never have gotten into hiking, backpacking, or ultra-distance running if it wasn't for her.

Fast forward two short months from her trip to England and my mom is in the hospital being told she has bladder cancer but that it is likely contained and easily treatable. Fast forward another 6 months and I'm holding her in my arms as she takes her last breathe...

I cannot express the level of loss I feel, the pain & sadness I deal with on a daily basis, or the regret I live with, thinking of how little time I spent with her over the last 10 years of my life.

In April, as she was undergoing chemotherapy, I ran my first ultra of the year - Desert Rats Double Marathon. I took 3rd in a time of 8:35. My mom was so proud of me and shortly thereafter I signed up the Silverheels 100 in Fairplay, Colorado. The hope was for her to be well enough to be present to share this 100 mile adventure with me. It had been over 3 years since I attempted the distance, and I was so looking forward to having Holly, my mom and my dad there to crew for this one.

Unfortunately, one of those special people was not there last weekend as I toed the line.

I'm not going to go into too much detail regarding how the race unfolded.

What I can tell everyone is that this was a beautiful and challenging course that was far more difficult than any of the 5 previous 100 mile races I'd finished. I pushed myself for the first 83 miles in 2nd or 3rd place nearly the whole time. I then hit a low worse than ever previously encountered... and then another... but rather than quit, I found a way to literally get up and keep going each of the 3 times my body became so fatigued I needed to lay down and sleep.

I've always had enough of a competitive drive that I couldn't bear the thought of "just finishing" if it meant an atrocious time. It had seemed far more palatable to DNF the two other times my mind & body started shutting down during a 100 mile race (2010 Hardrock & 2012 Leadville), but this time was different.

This time I was not running for myself, but for my dear mother who I miss so much. My mom was born in 1949 and I was given bib #49 for this race. It took me nearly 9 hours to cover the last 20 miles, but 28 hours and 28 minutes after toeing the line, I completed what I'd set out to do.

 I so wish she could have been there to see me finish...


sherpajohn said...

It was an honor and privilege of mine to have you present at our inaugural running. It was also wonderful to watch you and Brandt leap frog each other.. and even more inspiring to watch you rise up when you were down and out those number of times. I hope you'll come back and run it again Brooks.. if only to be a little closer to mom in the mountains.

With much respect
"Sherpa" John Lacroix -RD

Brooks said...

Thank you for the kind words and a great race. Hopefully I'll be able to challenge those mountains again in the future and come out on top next go round...

johntsharp said...

Great work Brooks! Sometimes it ain't about the time, it's about how we handle the suffering. We can always suffer more. Way to take it in stride and keep the task before you. Here's a nice quote from Viktor Frankl “But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”

Rob said...

Congrats Brooks! I feel every 100 mile finish is something to be proud of, especially those ones that don't come easy. I'm just disappointed you didn't post any puking photos:) Your Mom sounded like an amazing woman.