“Well, how are you changed?” My wife asked me two days after I finished running 37.5 miles at the Wildcat 100 in Pensacola, FL.
“I feel satisfied…like I don’t have anything left to prove and ready to move on to the next thing.” I replied.
It was a crazy race. You basically run as much as you can and try to hit different mileage goals.
Lesson 1: Everything multiplies.
Nearly all ultramarathons are some type of loop with this one being a 2.5-mile loop. With loops, all the nuanced pieces of the course are naturally multiplied. One of the sloped sections was a little over 100 yards and at about a 30-degree angle, which would not be that big of a deal if you are just running through it on a normal race. In this circumstance, I ended up running over a mile on it. Those small technical pieces can grind you down without you even realizing it.
Going back to the Be the Ecologist, those small changes in your personal and work environment can take you out if you aren’t careful. I certainly felt the physical impact of this over the race.
Lesson 2: The mind will try to take you out at some point.
Any race that I’ve done that’s longer than a half marathon, (and even some of those) The mind comes in and tries to take you out of the race. This is often referred to as The Wall and typically hits between mile 18 – 20 of a marathon. If you know it’s coming and are mentally prepared, you have a better chance of pushing through.
We all have those moments in our work, school and personal life that we hit The Wall. It’s those moments where we say, “I just can’t do this anymore.” Knowing that they will come and having a good support group will help you make it through those difficult times.
Lesson 3: Your race can change quickly.
In the afternoon, it began to rain…..hard. It rained 3 inches between the first storm and the last one that night. The rain itself didn’t bother me at all; it was when the rain took on the multiplier effect of lesson #1 that I was in big trouble. As a result, I got several blisters on my feet in a short amount of time and by that night my body had broken.
The lesson here is to know your limits. That night the race put two people in the hospital and the first place runner quit 75% in. I was satisfied where I had finished, even though it was not where I wanted to be where I started. Even though I could have run more laps, I would likely have cost myself serious injuries in the process.
Lesson 4: Friends and family are everything.
I ended up running this race solo, which is not how I planned to going into it. My wife organized a phone schedule and a bunch of my friends called me while I was out on the course. It made all the difference. I got calls during nearly all of the challenging sections and many encouraging messages from you by text and social media.
My family is amazing and really goes above and beyond to make sure what I do is possible to complete. I would encourage you not to take those friendships and family members for granted. Remember to return the favor and support when they need it.
Remember these lessons and keep pushing yourself to reach your personal goals. You are capable of much more than you think!
Make a better tomorrow.
*If you are interested, you can read a full recap of the experience over at The Disney Runner.