Thursday, December 6, 2018

Ultra. Take 2.

In the last decade, since reinventing myself as a kind-of-athlete, I have undertaken some big challenges. That first half marathon. That first marathon. A half Ironman. Ironman. And oh that swim. The first time is always the hardest. A jumble of nerves, self doubt, and a little fear. After that, there is a little deposit in the memory bank that reminds you: you can do this. You’ve done it before. Oh don’t get me wrong, there are still nerves & self-doubt - my familiar pre-race house guests - but the second time is easier. Except sometimes, it turns out, it isn’t.

My first race of 2018 was in February when I set out to tackle my first 50K. I made it not quite halfway when I was pulled, having missed an aid station cut-off by 4 minutes. I was devastated. I felt shame. This foolish undertaking of a 50K by someone like me. I cried. A lot.
Scenes from a training run on-course at Deception Pass

This weekend is my last race of 2018 and as you might have figured out by now, it’s my second attempt at a 50K. And this time doesn’t feel easier than the first time. I’m peeking in that memory bank and all I see is evidence that this is beyond me. Beyond my fitness. Beyond my capabilities. Beyond my crunchy, beleaguered knees. Another foolish undertaking. I am trying to work on my mental game but man, I am having to dig deep.

Speaking of that swim… if you’re wondering how it went. I got my money’s worth. With less than 40 seconds left to spare on the official cut-off and an extra km swum - because, why not - I finished it. Here’s the post-race ugly cry as I hug my paddler and super hero friend Shelly, who guided me down the lake and listened to me whine about how hard it was. It always seems impossible until it’s done. 

Note to self.