Despite my apparent optimistic nature, I can relate to the pessimism John speaks about. Running ultras--especially 100s--is hard. The training is relentless. Getting up at three in the morning to run for six hours before putting in a full day as at work and as a Dad takes its toll, mentally and physically. Eventually, the darkness takes over.
As John said:
I’m not real sure where my drive went. I looked for it behind the couch, at the bar, and under the bed. It was no where to be found. I lost my “why” and in the process I quit believing in myself.
I've been there. Hell, I feel like that all the time. Since Heartland, my motivation has come and gone repeatedly. I've become manic-depressive about endurance. I'm either gung ho or out of the game--sometimes within the same breath.
Again, John's words resonated with me:
In my mind I started making all the compromises that we do when things get tough in our lives. Compromises like, well when I go home I’ll just say that I gave it a shot but the race was just more than I could bear. Or, it will be okay, no one will think less of me if I quit. I told myself those little white lies with which I could justify quitting. Like, I didn’t train properly etc… In my heart, as we all know at these times, I knew I was lying to myself but I didn’t care. I remember... thinking, “There is no way... no way.” I just wanted to stop. I decided that when I got to the aid station I would quit. I knew that by quitting I would deal with an even greater sense of regret and pain, but that would be later.Been there too many times to count.
And what happens when you do get up and finish one of these races? When you put aside the pain and the depression and just get 'er done?
Well, here is what I felt at the end of my first (and only) 100 mile finish:
There was no runner’s high, no sense of euphoria during or after the run. It was hard. Plain and simple.John's Hardrock trek ended much the same way:
I had always expected that there would be a feeling of elation and I would be light on my feet with a spring in my step. I thought that my heart would lift a little, knowing that I was going to get this thing done. Well, none of those things ever happened. It’s not like in the movies, this shit is for real.
So what's the point of this depressing post? I'm not sure. Maybe it's just another one of those posts that needs to be out there. Another point of view. Like Matt Samet said:
If you're an outdoor athlete and good at it, you're probably like I once was: a selfish, self-involved son of a bitch. It's always more, more, more and me, me, me, and I was no different. I wanted to be the best. I wanted to do the hardest... to be the boldest....We're all teetering on the edge, folks.