Saturday, July 12, 2014
BT50k: The Dark Side
Recently, I posted a blog "Running: Just Another Addiction" and there I briefly mentioned the dark places you can go while running. However, I mainly referenced that to 100 miles, or the low points you feel during the race. What I forgot to talk about was the low, disappointed, and grief-stricken feeling you get when a race does not go the way you planned....and that is what this blog is about.
This was the third year I ran Buckeye Trail 50k, there area's second most popular trail race (after Burning River 100). As for many locals, it was my first ultra. Then I was just happy to finish. 2 years ago I ran it in 5:07.
At the beginning of June, I felt like I might have the chance of breaking 5 hours this year. Starting 2 weeks or so ago, I wasn't feeling on top of my game and my confidence slipped. I decided to not wear a watch and go by feel, usually a pretty good strategy for me. I figured maybe around a 5:15ish, depending on the day and the mud. At the very worst, I figured I'd finish under 5:30. I finished in 5:35. Ouch.
Also, to describe a slight embarrassing situation, I was finishing halfish mile road section with a big downhill and of course my hip wasn't having it and before I got to the hill I stopped to stretch to hopefully stop the limp. I looked back and saw a woman pop from behind a corner, probably some 150 years back. "O f*ck" I thought. I had thought earlier she was an early started, although moving well, but how could an early starter catch up to me. So down the hill, trying to pick it up, I started yelling to myself "C'MON RAY!" while the occasional whimper as I felt something move in my hip. I could lose my 3rd spot now.
The last stretch I totally lost my smile, wincing in pain, nearly in tears at the finish (partially because of the effort, partially because I saw my time).
Then Steve told me she actually was an early starter. Great.
Anyway, I was quite upset. For the most part I was able to contain myself while in public, trying to brush the nasty comments in my head into the background until I got home.
Only then (and after stuffing some salty Trader Joe's Sweet Potato Chips down my throat) did I go home, turn on the shower to muffle my sobs, and cried.
Yes, I know there are much bigger things to be upset and cry about then a silly running time, but I knew that to my inner self the race had been important and I need time to grieve. Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to let go of it, and I definitely did not feel liking hanging on to that for a long time.
As I let my tears flow in the shower (only a few tears were shed for the water touching my chaffed areas) I let all of my egos negative comments come to surface. You probably know most of them "you're not good enough" "wtf went wrong" "you should have run harder" "why do you suck so much?" "you're a disappointment and should probably never a race again" and a few more that were equally delightful.
For awhile, these comments made me cry harder, and then tears just stopped. That was it. I didn't even have anything to do with it, the tears just stopped coming. All in all, this probably last 15-20 minutes.
Of course, I'm still not happy with my time and wish things would have been better, but I don't feel like my heart is clenched. I don't feel like a total loser.
And while Im still unsure if I want to race again this year (if I did good I was going to sign up for MMTR-which is totally not happening now) I don't totally hate running. I'm simply question what went wrong, from a more scientific approach.
My training schedule was great coming off of Cumberland Gap Trail Marathon, so that wasn't it. Possibly nutrition? I felt a few lbs overweight before the race- but with ultra running sometimes its hard to tell where the mistakes come in (and sometimes not eating enough can make you gain weight-but I doubt that one). Or maybe sleep? I tried to get 8 most of the week (though only slept 7 or so the night before the race) but maybe I need 8.5. Maybe it was getting my blood tested twice last month (the defaulted on my iron test the first time-go figure)? Should I have crossed trained more? And is there anything I can do about my hip!?!?! (I talked to one supefit woman who dropped at mile 20 because the arthritis in her hip got bad-out of all the people I've talked to, only her symptoms seem even close to mine. I'm only 26...I cant have arthritis can I? If so, Im kind of screwed).
My head wasn't totally in it either. I have no idea why. Could I meditate more (my meditation practice does kind of stink).
And, to be perfectly honest, a lot of people's times at BT50k this year were a lot slower than usual. Plus, I still managed to hang on to third.
Okay, enough with that though...so what is the point of this dark side to running? Why do something where you can feel so utterly disappointed at the end? (Even after "surrendering your time and finish place"-hmmm, maybe I need to fully commit to that one).
Honestly, I'm not 100% sure yet. What I can say is that running mimics life in many ways, and in life there are many highs and lows. If everything was easy and smooth, are job on earth would probably be done. Maybe the same is true for racing...if it were easy all the time, what would we really get out of it? There has to be some reason for it....but I'll have to keep thinking about that one.
P.S. Sorry if there are a lot of typos in this blog. I just kind of pounded it out the evening after the race and am too tired to re-read it.
Update from a few days later:
Thinking about it even more, I'm glad I tried. I am proud of myself for having the courage to try. Like the saying goes, it really is better to have tried and "failed" (I don't think I can really call it a failure) than to not have tried at all. This didn't kill me either...after some time off, I know I will have the courage to try again.
Second, I realized driving today that in my thought that I can only do races with little to no trail, that with that thinking, I was in fact holding myself back. If I decide not to do a race simply because there are 2-3 miles of road in it...I am letting my hip, my discomfort, hold me back. If I sign up anyway, sure I may have to run really slowly or even walk, and possibly lose a few spots in the results, but how much does that really matter? I will still be in a race, on a trail, that I want to experience.