My ultrarunning has always been based on having the mental chops to hold it together and push through when the going gets tough. It's something I've always been able to rely on, and compensates for the fact that I'm really not a very good runner. So when I came up short at the "Karl's Kanoe" 60k last night it made me question everything.
The course was six 10k loops of Inks Lake state park. The terrain was very technical, but we were blessed with cooler weather than of late. The first few loops were fine, but somewhere on the third loop I had a moment of complete clarity. I thought "my wife, my little boy and my beautiful new baby are at home asleep, so what the f#%k am I doing here?" This was followed with absolute certainty by "I don't want to run anymore". And I didn't. I pulled up and flat out quit.
It's not something I'm proud of, and the only redeeming factor was that I was still stubborn enough that I wouldn't accept a DNF. So I walked. I walked the remaining 20 miles in a death march (my legs were fine - I just had no motivation). From time to time I considered running, but each time the same thought overrode that urge - "I don't want to run anymore". I was passed by folks I am usually hours ahead of and found I really didn't care.
20 miles of walking through the night is a long time to think. I looked at myself in the mirror and wondered if I liked what I saw. I knew I did not - I have never ever thrown the towel in before, at anything. This was a new experience and I didn't know how to handle it. We all have an image we project to the world, and reconciling that with this unexpected reality was hard. I was ashamed of myself, angry at what I was doing, and frustrated that I couldn't do anything about it. I wondered what Gavin and Dylan would think if they knew their dad quit. It wasn't a nice thought.
I wondered if I still wanted to run ultras, or even run trail any more - it hasn't been fun for some time (though I'm really enjoying my road running of late). I wondered what made me think I could run three 60ks in the hottest August on record on about 3-4 hours sleep a night. I wondered what made me think I could run Cactus Rose, or if I even wanted to anymore. That's still an unanswered question.
Yes, this is a pretty pathetic pity party. The only thing I can say in mitigation is that I'm really tired, and I'm sure everything will seem different after a good night's sleep. But I've always made it a point to be brutally honest in this blog, about both the good and the bad. And that's just how I feel right now - warts and all.
I apologize to anyone who was on the wrong end of my bad mood last night. Naresh was really kind and tried to pull me out of my funk every time I saw him, but it just wasn't happening.
On the plus side, at least I finished. And I did get a nice buckle for completing all 3 races in the Darkside series.
And finally, I'd hate for anyone to be put off these races just based on my experience (which is more to do with me than anything else). Brad is a super nice, genuine guy and he, Joe and everyone else put on really great races. And it's all for a good cause - I was glad to turn out and help support the charity.
8 hours ago