144 Days – Adapt or Overcome

“Would you ever want to go rucking with me?”

“We’re not rucking now?”  I said, pointing at my 10 lb Camelbak.

Carlos laughed.  It was another beautiful day on the trails of the Cleveland National Forest with one of my San Diego running friends.  This time, I had dragged along a few Bastards as well: Chris, who would also be joining me in the Old Goat 50 Miler in just a few weeks, and David Adams, who I had run with at Mt. Disappointment this last year, and who was also orchestrating our Grand Canyon Adventure in May.  They were up ahead as Carlos and I raced along the trails together.  Typically Carlos is a bit faster than me, but he was holding back due to his current military training, and a test he would be taking at the end of the week.  Hense the reason he was attempting to sucker me into a little ruck sack adventure.

It was a perfect running day for me.  My nutrition and training seemed to suddenly be clicking. Runs felt strong, lifting was getting better, my weight was going up while body fat was dropping.  It was exactly where I needed to be going into a 50 mile race, just 13 days from then.

Since David, Chris and I were all a bit different in our pace, we opted to go for time rather than distance.  Most of the course had been downhill so I turned back at an hour 20 minutes to be back at the car by 3 hours, and Carlos continued on. I was only alone for maybe 30 minutes, before I caught a glimpse of David coming up behind me, and slowed a little for him to catch up.  We ran the last part together, plotting our Grand Canyon trip.

When I first started ultrarunning almost 7 years ago, my heart was in it for the physical challenge of accomplishing the distance itself and simply the adventure of seeing places most people will never see in their lifetime.  I shifted when I realized that with the right coaching I could actually do well in some of these events and it became more of a competitive thing, at the cost of anything and everything – and it did come with a pretty heavy price tag.  The coaching was and still is spot on, but then the nutrition that was giving me a ‘high’ to run on during the race was destroying me.  I didn’t know that it could be done any differently, but I’m learning that it can.  I still enjoy the competition but  the challenge now is my own physical health and longevity in the sport, no longer finding so much of my identity in my physical accomplishments.  The goal is simply trying to be the healthiest person possible when I line up at the start line of a race, even if it doesn’t mean a PR or a medal.  I realized that I don’t love ultrarunning because of the way that it breaks or hurts me, I love it because of the places I get to see and the people that I get to experience the trails with.  There was nothing more enjoyable to me than racing through the rocky trails with my friend Carlos, or descending down that last hill with David, stopping to admire the views, while excitedly discussing our upcoming adventures.  It is easy to get so focused on the finish line that you lose sight of the journey.  And that to me is the fun part.

And then there is the AC100… that race will encompass anything and everything within the realm of competitiveness, pain, challenge, adventure, the experience itself and the people that have chosen to go on this journey with me.  There are big changes happening in both my personal and professional life, and my races have always seemed to mirror and walk me through those times.  The one thing certain about life is that there will always be obstacles and change but nothing will ever be thrown at you that you can’t adapt to or overcome.  I think the stronger the person, the harder the challenges.  It is the only way we grow.

144 Days…

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