Almost two weeks ago, I took on my fourth 50K and set a new personal record. This was my best 50K effort to date. My original PR was from my first of the four, a flat hot race in Florida. I followed that race up with two 5000+' climbing efforts, both on somewhat muddy trails, that resulted in significantly slower times. I bucked down, I ran more hills, I ran in the mud, and I ran in the snow. This past February I took on a crazy marathon in the mountains of Asheville, NC finishing the race in 3:42. This was not a PR, but a break through in trail running. I finished strong and happy, a first for a race of that distance. I finished my latest 50K with a similar feeling, something that I am hoping will stay as a common theme in long distance racing.
While running two weeks ago, I thought back to my race last February. As I ascended and then descended on the muddiest of trails, I couldn't help but smile. While it is a lot of work trying to find the best path, it is something that I have come to know and love. As I continue to train for my first 50 miler, I just have to think back to the events in the past I have endured: 50K trail runs, 150 mile bike rides, and half iron triathlons.
As I was recovering from my race last week, Amy crashed her bike at mile 17 of our 25 mile ride. I hammered away for the last 8 miles to get to the car as fast as possible so I could get back and take Amy to the doctors. The result was a broken collar bone. As I thought about Amy on the way back to the car I had weird feeling of existentialism. How I felt didn't matter. All that mattered was I got back to the car and reduced the amount of time that Amy was suffering.
Over the past year I have had this feeling a few different times. It originally began in the weeks after my son Neil was born (late June 2012). When you have a baby crying in the middle of the night, you drop everything in an effort to help them. Your sleep becomes less important. Your hunger becomes less important.
The reason I bring this up is that we become stronger by dealing with life's experiences. Whether it is working a long shift, competing in a hard race, or dealing with a sick or tired child, they all help us become stronger people.
As I continue to train for my first 50 mile race, I pull upon every experience I have to make me a tougher endurance athlete. In the coming weeks I move on to mileage I have never run before. Next weekend the back-to-back long runs begin with two 15-milers. As I continue to push on, I just look back and remember, experience is the key.
- The Multisport Maniac
Amy recovering with Chilly Willy.