April’s First Ultra Marathon Brought to You by the Letter “P”

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.

Ledesma Sports Medicine Rails to Trail Ultra MarathonI 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.

Procrastination

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.

541759_327005787407954_1729755546_nPreparation

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!”

Ledesma Sports Medicine Rails to Trail Ultra MarathonPerspective

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

  1. I am deciding today to focus on learning, excelling, and preparing
  2. 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.

Perseverance

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.

Comments

  1. You rock April!

  2. Love it.. very inspiring! Makes me almost want to start to think about maybe running a full mary one day, in the distant future, possibly. 😉 You did awesome! Keep inspiring and running and showing the world who’s boss!

  3. Honest, Excellent and Informative! Well written! Great job out there!
    dh

  4. Really enjoyed reading your blog! Met Karen Heitner at a little twelve hour endurance run up here in Tennessee last November, and was alerted to your beautifully written blog by Karen. Best to you, and hope you keep writing! Thanks, Don

    • Thanks Don!! I adore Karen and am honored that she thought enough of me to mention it to you.

      I have to tell you, I was moved to no end when I read on your blog…

      “I was reminded of Paul who rejoiced in his personal weakness because it allowed the strength of Christ in him to be demonstrated. There were times on the first lap that I thought, “You’re in over your head. Seal Challenge, well, that was fine; do some 5k’s, or some road races, but this is just ridiculous.” And always He would respond, “Don’t anticipate. Just keep moving forward. My grace is sufficient. ” And so it is with us who call ourselves by His name. His Grace is sufficient. That is his promise to us. It is the same grace that I felt after dark as I struggled up that long hill a few steps at a time. There was grace enough to take ten more steps, nothing more guaranteed. Then ten more. One of the reasons I do this, is because in a strange way, it shuts out the noise, and I can feel God’s presence more clearly; the help He gives is tangible, immediate.”

      Thanks for reminding me about perspective, action, humility, and grace. I look forward to becoming friends…

  5. I told you that you could make it under 6:30! You were tough out there. = )

  6. This Running Mom says:

    I really enjoyed reading your race recap. Congratulations on your Ultra Marathon finish!

    • Thanks, Anne!! How is your “13 in 13” coming along? I am worried I am going to procrastinate and end up having to run a race week in November and December!!

  7. Congrats April. I’m reading this as I wait for the sun to come up so I can run yet another long run to train for my first 50 miler. I definitely don’t feel prepared. The eating/nutrition alone overwhelms me to even think about. My perspective is a roller coaster. Sadly this week that roller coaster was on a steep downhill of self doubt. Perseverance is the only thing that got me out the door for training runs. I talked to my husband and essentially after a somewhat long conversation he ended it with “you won’t give up.”

    Great read as usual 🙂

    • Thanks Jill 🙂 I think your 50 miler is 1 month before mine. My official training schedule for it starts March 11th. I completely agree that what I put into my body is freaking me out more than the physical ability. This run is notorious as it is highly likely temps will be in the 90’s (or triple digits even!) The thought is oppressive!

      But your hubs is right!! We won’t give up!!! We. Can. Do. It.!!

  8. My poor neglected comments! I am so sorry, I suck :/ you should see my email!! Thanks so all of you so very much for your support and well wishes!

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