Well, my mission is accomplished. Perhaps not quite in the way I had originally imagined, but finished none-the-less. I chose to pull out of the race at the 50 mile mark, and I have almost no regrets. I use the word almost because there are always those twinges when you wonder what could have been. Truth is though, I'm extremely pleased with myself. Here is my story:
The race did not really start for me until I arrived at leg 3. Leg 3 is known as death valley because it's hot. It's almost always run in the afternoon when it's hot, and the heat zaps the strength right from you. Leg 3 is open for almost the entire leg. Trees provide little shade, and the heat radiates off the trail so you get it from the top and the bottom. It's also known as Satan's Sack because it's shaped like a giant testicle. :).
Leg 2 was amazing, but also tough, so I began to hit a low spot when I headed up for leg 3. The advice "slow the pace and you will rebound in time" is correct, but I had no idea the time required for me to rebound. I did not until I was finishing the 36 km that leg 3 required. While running an ultra, nutrition and calories are extremely important, so I was using "Hammer Perpetuum". It's a drink that provides not only complex carbs, but good fats and protien. I drank lots of it, but eventually, my stomach became upset. I became bloated, and eventually had to start walking, suffering through the cramps and heat. The whole experience was completely miserable. By 25km into leg 3, I realized I had better duck into the forest or I would be sorry. I was in the forest for about 15 minutes before I felt like I was good again.
Once that ordeal was over, I was dehydrated and weak. I began to drink, and then gradually introduced pertetuum again. Over time, it's true, my strength began to rebound, and I began to fell better. That's when I met up with Virginie, the Kids, and my parents.
At that point, I suggested that we modify the goal, so it's actually achievable. Then, I have something to rejoice in. I've not done many 50-milers, and it's a good starting point on ones way to a 100-miler. Running without Virginie was harder than I imagined. I love that Woman dearly, and as a result, being with her strengthens me. I suggested, that I would run a 50-miler, and that everyone should cheer like I am actually finishing. Everyone was on board.
Leg 4 was tough, but I felt strong and satisfied. When I arrived at the transition area, I arrived running strong, but I was slowing down. Each leg was requiring more time.
I admit, I was sitting on the fence somewhat about continuing on. I felt strong again, but I was going on into the night, and I was so tired! Most of running ultra's is the mental game. Keeping ones mind in check. This is always the hardest part of my game. By stopping, I was choosing to stop on a high point. A good experience at a race will provide such motivation for the next one. By continuing on, I ran the risk of not finishing, and becoming totally defeated. Something I'm a little vulnerable with right now. It's been a tough year of training (or lack thereof). I'm proud to have set a new goal, and achieved it.
The great thing is, is to see the congratulations of people on Facebook. People didn't to say comments like "maybe next time" or "so sorry about...". Everyone was proud and congratulatory. That means a lot to me. Frankly, I realize some of my running was about "people pleasing" and trying not to be broken. As I combat this paradigm and choose to pick a goal that works for me, and still see acceptance and admiration from peers, I come to realize the inherent good in people. Little by little, I am learning to trust people more and more.
How about the fund-raiser? Well I've made my offering and I did my best. Nobody knows suffering like those boys, but they never complain about it. I don't think they know how to complain. At least none of the ones I met, and I can tell you, what kind of offering would a battered runner be? I whole heartedly believe too, that they would want me to do by best, and end when I'm all "funned out" :).
I want to thank my Wife for believing in me, and for all of those friends out there who have followed my blog and been with me through this whole experience. Even though it's just a day later, I can tell you that my story is not complete yet. I'll still continue to run and do my best. Especially the ultra distances. Each experience we have carves us, and makes us who we are. This one has added to my depth as a person, and especially my compassion. I will relieve this day with fond memories for the rest of my life.
Finally, thank-you the Muscular Dystrophy Alberta and Rachel Chan for all her support in getting our message out. Virginie and I could not have done this without you.
Until next post,