Friday, April 1, 2011

I Am an Ultrarunner! Almost. Maybe. Part 13

Knowing when to say "enough".

While at dinner last night after viewing My Run, the conversation turned to racing and my upcoming foray into ultra marathons.  A friend asked "when is enough going to be enough?"  At first I thought she was referring to the long-term view of racing.  How many future ultras?  Actually the question was more about the immediate.  At what point during the hundred miles would I know it was time to stop?  What are the signs telling me to get off my feet before I'm on my back?

Of course my wife was a party to this conversation.  We returned to the topic on the way home.  She is afraid I will kill myself in pursuit of this goal.  I discussed my eating plan.  I discussed my hydration plan.  The course layout will never have me more than two miles from an aid station.*  If my handhelds go dry I won't have far to go for a refill.  And the run is outside Seattle so chances are it will be raining.  Like manna from heaven.

All the advice I have been given says that the challenge is all mental.  My body will ache.  The pain is unavoidable.  I will hurt of a long time.  The trick will be in pushing the pain aside and continuing to move forward, whether I run, shuffle, walk or crawl.

So I come back to the question of when I will know if I am "finished" before the finish.  It may be a physical breakdown.  The moment could come from a mental lapse.  I hope the wall does not collapse on me, but I have to accept that the wall begins to crumble from the very first step I take.  So the true race is not to the finish line and the belt buckle trophy.  Rather the true race is time and distance against my body and endurance.

I will not pick a number and predict "I shall be satisfied if...."  It will be very in-the-moment.  I believe I will know when I know.  My hope is that the knowing will come after the finishing.  After the eighth and final loop.

 - Logan

*Twelve mile loop with aid at the Start/Finish, Mile 4 and Mile 8.

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