Endurance…the time when pressing on is a test of one’s will…it requires mental toughness….sometimes pure stubbornness…and most of all….desire. Through the seasons of life there are times when the fall turns to the brutal winds of winter and the day to day grind becomes an endurance event. I began running December 2008….and through those years I have completed numerous ultramarathons. In fact, I went from the couch to my first 50 mile trail ultra marathon in 14 months. One big training cycle…from race to race…from ultra to 100 mile bike ride…marathons with 45 lb backpacks…5:00 AM workouts…all night runs.
On Friday night my wife asked, “Aren’t you excited to race tomorrow?” I look over and calmly replied, “No.” I didn’t even pack my race bag till the morning of the Rockledge Rumble 50K race. My meticulous nature of checking and rechecking was absent…I didn’t even charge my Garmin 405…and when I went to bed, I set my alarm and thought…”The only reason I am running the Rumble tomorrow was the commitment I made to do it.” Even though the Saturday race day was absolutely perfect fall weather, my heart and soul was weathering the frigid chill of a Blue Northerner.
An out and back 22 miler … I come into the aid station cooked. My body felt fine…at least like it would after 22 miles on a trail…my desire…gone…completely…I didn’t want to be out there….I didn’t want to be racing….and I sure as hell didn’t want to go back out for another 10 miles. My friend, Buddy Teaster, looked at me and said…you look fine…and I said…I am…but I don’t care. Buddy responds, “I don’t have anything on the aid station table to fix that…you have to want it…and you definitely do not have anything to prove.” Five minutes later I was in my 4 Runner and on my way home. I am not proud of that…but I simply didn’t care. .. that, my friend, is a dangerous place to be. Only 2 months previously had I ridden my best century on the hottest race day of record for the 30 year old Hotter N Hell bicycle ride. The “highs” of that accomplishment were absent to only be replaced by the doldrums of life.
The abyss of apathy indicates a time to step away for a time from the endurance realm….not permanently….but for now. I have something planned for April…a weeklong event that I will detail later…but for now…I don’t have an ultra planned for a year. That is on purpose. Fitness is still a priority…just not the 6 hours runs…the back to back long days….the 3:00 AM wake up calls.
Wide is the path that leads to destruction…but the rocky, narrow trail is where life is lived on the edge…and when the sun begins the decent over the horizon….and darkness engulfs you….you press on…a paradox...running the very narrow path of ultramarathons was placing me on a 6 lane expressway …Stepping away from running races that sometimes take you 10 plus hours…to reignite the burning fires of enjoying life again…to reevaluate my purpose and goals. Challenges in life buffet you…and God uses these incidences as heavenly sandpaper to smooth out the rough edges. This year has not been short of a little 60 grit…a refining of who I am as a person…to my family….to my friends. Bren, my wife, has been more supportive than I could have ever asked…and I watched her closely when I responded to her inquiry about me being excited to race on that November Saturday. Her eyes showed the grave concern of a coach whose team was in trouble. A week ago I went over my plans with her for what I intended to do on the endurance front…and she responds, “Any way I can help, let me know.” And that is how we roll. 2011’s refining fire has not been pleasant…but the dross is being removed. Bren and I have seen growth in our family…being pushed out of our comfort zone tends to do that. The night is long…and winter longer….but dawn is nigh….the the spring of life will renew…for these times are not near as sweet until compared to the depths of the wintery night….and so we press on.