Thursday, January 24, 2019

Changing Motivations....

I have been chewing on things lately.  Life things.  And, considering what a big part of my life that trail/ultra running is, I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about the role it has in my life and how that has evolved as I have gotten older.  See, when I ran my very first ultra, I was 39 years old and heading towards divorce.  I know for a fact that one of the things that attracted me to ultra running was the long hours alone in the woods that allowed me the time to work through my changing place in life. 

Now, 9 years later, I am still a fan of ultras - 100 miles being my personal favorite distance, but things have changed.  I think when I started, I was running away from something.  I used all of those early miles alone to suffer, contemplate, celebrate.... and grow into the person I was meant to be.  It took a while. Crossing the finish line at my first 50 miler didn't lead to enlightenment, but every time I pushed in distance and time, a little piece of the puzzle was added.  Now, at 48 years old, most of the pieces are in place, and I have trail and ultra running to thank for a large part of that.

So, I am going for my 6th belt buckle at Screaming Monkey 100 miler in April.  The main difference?  I fully expect this experience to be FUN!! I am honestly looking forward to reaching the point where my brain is trying to convince my body that it is time to call it a day and go for pizza.  I have noticed a mental change lately on long runs when I get to that point.  In the past, there would be mental negotiation:  "Just run to that tree", "3 minutes then I can walk".  Now, something interesting is happening.  As soon as my brain starts its usual tricks and tries to get me to shut it down, that thought is squashed.  I am not doing it purposefully, it just happens.  So, when my brain says that I need to walk, something else swipes that thought away before it can take hold. 

The only thing that I can credit it to is experience, and the understanding that sometimes, your thoughts lie to you.  I am starting to understand why ultras, especially 100 milers are predominately the domain of those in their 40's and up.  I guess it takes getting kicked in the teeth a few times to build up  the skills you need to persevere late in an ultra. 

I may not PR my 100 miler (although I will try), but I am excited for the challenges it will bring, and I am curious as to how I will overcome them, or what I will learn from them. 

Maybe perspective is really what I have learned.  This aging thing is pretty cool, y'all.  Grateful that I get to experience it.

Find your 100 miler...whether it is a night spent camping all alone in the woods, or taking that acting class... do something that scares you, then do it again until it is no longer scary.  That is where you grow.   Worked for me.

That being said, I did just PR my 50k distance by almost an hour and a half, so who knows?  :-) 

Happy Running, Y'all!