This is not the post I wanted to write, but it is what's real. I have been meaning to write something about my life being overbook right now. I was taking flight anyway with passengers sitting in the aisle figuring my plane wouldn't crash. Well I wouldn't say my life flight crashed, but I hit some major turbulence that left some of my aisle passengers injured. Okay I'll try to make that make sense.
I've had a lot going on lately. Let's see if I can get most things listed. My contract gypsy moth work is going on and I have a large area to work with various deadlines in August and mid-September. I'm have summer XC practice 2 nights a week for any interested, plus school starts Aug. 8th and I'm the head coach. I've been working to finish getting our rental property remodeled. Continental Divide Trail Race is coming up Aug. 25. I'm doing TransRockies in mid-August. I'm helping coordinate the US long distance mountain team and going there to race in early September. I'll basically stop there, but throw in Speedgoat 50K that was yesterday.
I arrived at race morning dog tired, having missed a lot sleep in the last two weeks. Plus stressed about work, since I smashed my car a couple of weeks ago and have been fixing it. But I can deal with anything right? Wrong. Speedgoat was a monumental disaster. My overall exhaustion and stress are the best explanation I can come up with for yesterday. I may not have been in perfect fitness, but it was good. The race started well enough, other than forgetting to actually tie my shoes. I was climbing really well, descending was good. But the mental struggle started early and hard. I wasn't even feeling bad, I just didn't care that I was in a race. I kept myself moving, figuring I'd get through it. I was trying everything in my bag of mental tricks. Nothing worked. I even tried some new things. Coming into the aid station at 15.5 miles, I was around tenth mixed in with a really good group. I was just behind Nick Clark, right with Jason Schlarb, only 2-3 minutes behind Anton Krupicka among others. A top five was a possibility at that point. Being very competitive I hoped my competitive fire would kick in. I didn't feel bad physically it was just time to push into the second half which always gets uncomfortable for everyone. I just didn't care. All I could think was how much I wanted to lay down. I took a little extra time at the aid station and hoped I'd get remotivated on the climb. Climbing is my strength and I like it. It wasn't happening. I sat down. Then ran with guy for a bit. Then went over into the woods and laid down to take a nap. I took at least a 20 minute nap and did feel better, but was definitely out of the race. In running up to the next aid station to drop, I caught Jeremy Duncan. I told my sad story and that I was dropping. He talked me into continuing with him. He had a sprained ankle and was having a rough one. I felt like a crappy running partner. I was in a mad kind of funk. I did snap out for a bit on this really tough climb that went straight up the mountain off trail. That was the best part of the day. Jeremy got me looking around and appreciating the views and wildflowers. Found out we are both mildly colorblind. But my mind was still mostly in the crapper. At the end I bypassed the chute. I just didn't want to be an official finisher.
One thing I really thought would keep me going, pushing through the struggle, was what would I tell friends, the kids that I coach. Not to sound bad, but I really don't care what anyone else thinks. It has played over and over since I decided I was done. All I can tell is the truth. I blew up mentally. As strong as I may think, or want, myself to be, I also possess as much weakness as any other person. Maybe more. Admitting this is tough, but it is what's real.
My take home from Speedgoat is this: human connection is the real value in life. Therefore I am blessed beyond measure. The community of trail running is one thing I love most about my sport. Friends, both at the race and that have contacted me about how it went, have been so encouraging. We all face struggles. Those struggles are more easily handled with friend's support. Talking to Alison afterward was good. One of my high school kids, Megan, texted me about the race. She just gave more reassurance.
So most important is where do I choose to go from here. I'll share what I wrote in 2008 after my first big ultra failure. Our failures define us just as much as our successes.