Overcoming Stagnation- Pony Express 100

IMG_0622The opposite of success is NOT failure. Rather, the opposite of success is indifference, or stagnation. I was faced with this the past few months. Walking off the course of an ultramarathon is something I do not do. However, this September at mile 46 in the Bear 100 I earned a DNF while walking off the course. It was an awful day. Out of 18 ultras I had only earned a DNF one time, due to having the flu.

For a few days post Bear 100 I felt crummy and considered just not getting back out for an ultra next year and giving up on my goals. Yeah, that lasted about 72 hours. Quickly, I realized I was doing more than failing, I was settling with the pathetic state of indifference and stagnation. A sickening recognition. Accepting failure is okay but becoming apathetic and indifferent is the true problem here and a fast moving trap waiting to suck us, as humans, down.

So, Tuesday after the Bear 100 I signed up for the Pony Express 100, which was 2 1/2 weeks away. Uh oh! Taking my first steps back out of temporary stagnation. The excitement  crept back in to me. I am a true believer in the theory that behavior precedes motivation. This behavior of signing up was the only behavior I needed to start feeling motivated.

Nothing like arriving in Salt Lake City at 11:30 pm and waking up for the race at 3:30am! Oh well, it worked. I slept the whole 60 minute drive from my sisters house to the start line. Rolling out of the car a few minutes before running a 100 miler is the way I prefer anyway. After all, I have all day long to stretch out and get moving. 🙂

Pony Express 100 is flat and fast. The danger on this course is moving too fast those first 50-60 miles. By mile 20, about 3hours and 20 minutes in to the race I was convinced that I was in accordance with my strategy to Endure the entire 100. I had not been anaerobic and was feeling relaxed. I had avoided the pit fall of moving too fast and stayed steady. Sure, I could have kept my miles to below 8 min/miles; however, that is short-sided thinking and short-sided thinking is rarely helpful in life.

Nutrition and gait! That was my mantra during the first 60 miles. I wanted to get to mile 95 and still have to pee. So, I did just that! Hydration while running  an ultra is not just as simple as drinking water. Rotating between electrolyte drink and water is essential. However, I hit a small problem with that whole keeping a balanced gait…

IMG_0630Mile 38, I hit a hole in the trail and my knee popped. One of those “pops” where you can feel and hear it. Ouch! I convinced myself that it was just a little pain and all would be well. By Mile 50 (about 10 hours in to the race), I started to feel the pain in the knee and asked Shayna for ibuprofen. I do not typically take NSAID’s during races but I had no choice. My knee pain was causing nausea and pain was radiating down my legs.

IMG_0632Also around mile 50 my sister, Heidi, started running with me. Yay!! I love running with Heidi. She is so experienced and frankly should be paid for how well she can get in my head and keep me moving. She is a stick of dynamite. Between her and Shayna keeping me positive during the ENTIRE race, I was truly blessed!

IMG_0671 IMG_0672Heidi and I took off and from miles 48-62 we maintained good pace. Nausea came back and kicked me in the face for about 6 miles. Mile 68 is the only place on the course with a real aid station. I told Heidi and Shayna to get me a blanket and chair and I needed 20 minutes to sleep and get my pain and nausea down. So, I quickly fell asleep. Getting out of that chair and moving again was awwwwwwful! Some really nice cheery fellow was trying to speak Spanish to me, which I typically love to converse in Spanish, but I had to tell him I could barely even comprehend English at this moment. I tried to start walking and my knee was so swollen and stiff. I wanted to throw up. I contemplated just throwing up and getting on with it. Instead, Heidi told me to take a minute and reminded me to just be steady and the race was going to develop well. I am a strong night runner and the night was upon us!

Nothing like a nap on a rock. About mile 76, I found myself very sleepy. Caffeine was doing nothing for me. I think the hectic week leading up to the race was wearing on me. I could not settle for sleepiness slowing me down. After all, I would have several months after the race that I could sleep! But, I asked Heidi to give me three minutes to sleep on this comfy rock along the trail. I had a few nice dreams and she awoke me! It was time for a nice little climb up the pass!

Made it up to the top of the climb (mile 80) at 1am. I felt so good knowing that I had 5 hours to make it 20 miles. We kept a decent pace from miles 80-84. Then the pain was screaming at me. Usually, in a 100 mile race I accept pain as part of running a far distance. This time it was more than that. My knee was not wanting to move. I was dragging it along. I got slower and slower and was trying to just keep a forward motion. I could not become stagnant.

Heidi has dealt with a number of hip issues over the past years and her hip was getting tight. I could see how she was dealing with her pain… and she was doing it for nothing more than to see me finish. Frankly, that was enough motivation to keep moving forward. Her and Shayna were up for the entire 25 hours that I was out there! No excuse to quit when people are sacrificing. Besides, it was actually a lot of fun being out there and enduring and accomplishing.

25 hours, 27 minutes later… I finished and prepared myself for a nice nap! I had overcome the glimpse of stagnation and pushed myself forward! Thank you everyone both near and far for your positive thoughts, prayers, and energy!

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