One Impossible Thing

Running Down a Dream

By Alice Schenk

In last month’s issue of IDAHO magazine, Alice Schenk described her 2012 solo run of the Sawtooth Relay. This month, she recounts repeating the feat in 2013.

June 8, 2013

In the heart of Idaho there is a race that draws 310 teams and allows five solo athletes to pay good money to participate. For a second consecutive year, some deep, fierce, unknown spirit inside me draws me to it: the Sawtooth Relay, 62.7 miles from Stanley to Ketchum. I regard it as the final exam of my 2013 spring run semester, and I’m hoping for a personal record-breaking time. I’ve packed a ton of inspiration into my heart for this journey: songs, poems, quotes, and sayings. There will be no portable media player for me to pass the time. Memorizing inspiration is what got me through my longest training runs, because I know I can’t get by on muscle alone. I’m strong and lean on the outside—except for one serious problem.

My daughter Megan once said, in another context, “If there is a sliver of hope, small though it may be . . .” That’s what I’m doing, hoping, because my foot may not allow me to finish this race. After a fairly fast marathon three weeks earlier, in which I qualified for the 2014 Boston Marathon with a time of 3:48, I ran a thirty-one-miler less than a week later, a seven-miler the next day, and then silly me took to the mountains, running 7.25 miles up and the same distance down. That was eight days before the Sawtooth Relay was to begin. I never would have allowed an athlete I was coaching to overtrain in that manner, so I’ve no clue why I let myself do it. Actually, I have to admit: it was pure lack of wisdom. Now I had incurred a dislocated toe and a swollen foot pad with accompanying pain from what I thought was Morton’s neuroma. It hurt to walk, much less run. Yet I knew that regardless of whether I finished the race, I wanted to participate. I was lighter than I had been in a long time, which I thought ought to help the bear get over the mountain.

The day I left for Stanley, an article in the Twin Falls Times-News featured Kodey Rosen, who had won a national “body transformation” contest. I smiled at the thought of what he had said: “I told everyone I was going to make the impossible possible.”

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