Porta potties, while not preferable, don’t really bother me. Especially when you need one.
Hovering is WAY harder after you have run 31+ miles.
That little gem is one of the many things I learned Saturday. The Ledesma Sports Medicine Savannah Rails to Trails Ultra 2013 will forever be logged as my first Ultra Marathon.
If we are friends on Facebook, or if you have seen the recent WTOC news story by the beautifully talented Dawn Baker, you already know that I injured myself about a month ago. In fact, writing this post, I have just realized that Saturday was a day shy of a month since it happened. There was a lot of back and forth on whether I was going to do the 50k, 25k, or even be able to run at all.
ran completed the whole thing. It took an exhaustive 6 hours, 22 minutes, 34 seconds.
“Hell, a 15:48 pace to finish? You can walk that!” is WAY harder than it sounds.
Six and a half hours on your feet, in the heat (temps hit a record high of 75), averaging a 11:45 pace will take your brain (and your heart) to a bunch of places.
That time sucked. I should have been able to do it a full hour faster. More if I had not been injured. I missed out in a couple of key areas. Please notice I did not say “failed.” Nothing about Saturday was a failure.
But if we don’t learn to make better, we are wasting life’s experiences So, in addition to learning a bit more about peeing in porta potties and pace, I also came to some conclusions concerning procrastination, preparation, perspective, and perseverance.
Making a firm decision about Saturday before Saturday was something I absolutely did not want to do. So, I didn’t. I was at the starting line answering the “whatcha going to do” question with “I dunno yet.” I was even heralded by another runner during the first 25k that my method of freeing my mind to whatever possibility happened was enlightened and so smart.
And maybe it was. Maybe there was some hidden genius to relaxing and simply committing to showing up. Maybe the method of deciding on all or some at the half way point was part of my success. But even if that is so, the decision was made poorly.
You see, there is a big difference between deciding not to decide and putting off making a decision. I employed the latter. Procrastination is never the answer. My focus was on my injury. It was on whether I would punk out, hurt myself again, garner yet more creatively worded “I told you so”s. All of those things cause doubt and anxiety. What you focus on expands. Doubt and anxiety expanded. I froze.
While it appeared that I had decided not to decide, I had actually refused to make any decision at all. When you don’t decide, you can’t have a goal. When you don’t have a goal, you cannot prepare. When you aren’t prepared, things take a whole lot longer to finish, if you finish at all.
Please read that last paragraph again. It is the most important thing outside of the porta potty gem in this whole piece.
Before my first marathon, I was prepared. Seriously prepared. The day before was spent eating, drinking, breathing, living the runner lifestyle. I had my clothes ready, my fuel strategy planned, the cooler pack, the departure time scheduled – everything. I was in bed at a decent hour and woke alive and excited when my alarm went off the first time.
My first Ultra, not so much. I tried not to think about it most of the day. I worked late. I went to bed late. When the alarm went off, I hit the snooze – a lot. I wasn’t sure what clothes to wear. *Note – shorter runs, this doesn’t matter so much. When you are running long distances, it is a game changer. I didn’t know where all my gear was. I didn’t check the weather. I hadn’t packed a cooler nor had I planned the fuel for the day. I ended up grabbing a thing of peanuts and a half eaten box of cereal and leaving the house an hour late. Yeah, that works.
Because I procrastinated about the decision, I never moved into the place in my brain where that voice says, “Okay, we have a goal. Let’s get after it!”
What I should have questioned was my perspective. What is the focus? In truth, regardless of the situation, focus always seems to narrow itself down to “make it better.”
Being a wife, mother, professional, citizen, friend, family member, runner – whatever – the decision is a win if it makes whatever situation we are dealing with better.
Because I came at Saturday from the perspective of fear, defeat, doubt, and negative commitment, I refused to make a decision, I could not get prepared.
Had I remembered that fear, defeat, doubt, and negative commitment are all a product of perspective, I would have been able to come at it differently.
Saturday was an amazing reminder that the goal every day is to appreciate and learn from who I was yesterday, be the best I can possibly be today, and set myself on the path to be awesome again tomorrow. There is the perspective. That should be the focus.
The process should have been
- I am deciding today to focus on learning, excelling, and preparing
- I am prepared to either run 31 miles or encourage those who do. If it is a stellar day, I will be able to do both.
But, it wasn’t. I was mentally wonked out, physically under trained, and totally unprepared. I started anyway. I finished anyway. Because that’s what we do.
I wish it had been easier. I could have made it easier. I take responsibility for the wrong decisions and appreciate the lessons I have learned from them.
But, at the end of the day, I, you, we, still have heart. And that trumps it all.