So, the grand event is complete, and I am back in Florida in known confines; the sun, the flatness, the humidity and hot days. Infinitus was challenging, and in the end resulted in about what I expected, but a great experience and one I would want to try again in the future.
I am treading lightly in this race report because I received a strange email from a reader and podcast listener that took some of the things I stated in the last show completely wrong. In the course of explaining the race and the days leading up to it, it was taken that I was using the weather and the challenges as an excuse of some kind to me not completing the 100-mile distance. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you have been reading the blog or listening to the show, you all are aware of the foot issues I have been having since December. I trained through it, completed a number of 20-mile training “runs”, and finally got the treatment that I needed, but in all honesty, the training was not as good as it needed to be. I was aware of this, and my coach was aware of this, but the decision was made to give the event a shot anyway and hope that the experience would be worth any additional or potential pain/injury I would experience.
Upon arrival, we were hit with winds gusting to 50+ miles per hour. This made it nearly impossible to get a tent set up, which also meant no cooking. So I spent the night before the race in my car eating beef jerky and peanut butter with pretzels. This DID NOT cause the issues I had in the race the next day. I actually felt pretty good in the morning. My ankle/feet felt strong, the wind was down, and when the gun went off at 8:08 AM I headed out feeling good about my chances. The PLAN was to do it twice, at least. So even though it was a 100-mile run, I was planning in my head to do 54 and then reassess.
The COURSE had other plans.
Even after the first two miles, I felt OK. No pain in the ankles or the feet. I had hooked up with Brian, a fellow “big guy” from Massachusetts, and we had a pretty good 17-18:00 pace going. We got to the fire road and the mile distance before turning to the climb up Mt. Romance. 1500 feet in 1.5 miles. This took some time, and though the wrenching of the ankle was starting to bother me on the ascent, and though I had to stop a couple of times to get heart rate in check, I got to the top in about an hour. It was the descent that did me in.
The pain in my ankle got worse with each step onto shaky earth. The torquing the ankle took was just too much, and by the time I got to the bottom with about 2 miles to go I knew it was going to be trouble. I hobbled into the lodge area after 7.9 miles in 4:14:03 and sat down, with ankles throbbing and each step feeling like a pin was being driven into my foot. Facing the 20-mile section I knew it would be a mistake to attempt it at this point. Although my instinct was to pull out at that moment I shot a text to Meghan and she said “do NOT pull out yet!” and asked that I wait for her to get there. After she got there and talked to me she recommended that I wait it out through the night and see how it felt in the morning, and I agreed, so I settled in for one more car sleeping evening.
The good thing about all of that was that I met some great people while hanging around the lodge. From Adam on night one, trying to hold his tent together in the winds, to his friends Flo and Richard who gave me steak the next day because I was unable to cook. From Jeff, who was pacing Lance (the eventual only finisher of the 888K event), to Roy and his wife Donna who were crewing for their nephew (and making him pasta for dinner), to Army girl and her cohort (a fellow Tampa resident), to discussion with race directors Andy and Jack. The people were awesome. And worth the trip by itself.
The next morning the feet were still bad so I officially dropped out.
I was OK with it.
I talked about it on the show this week (E4E) and apparently gave one listener a great deal of discomfort. So I admit that I started questioning why I was OK with it, and then, in the end, decided that this person did not know me and did not know what I was dealing with, so I let it go (something I am trying hard to do in a lot of areas in my life). I know what I gave out there, and the experience I had, and regardless of being told by this person that “just” toeing the line and finishing 7.9 miles is not a “victory”, I realized that projection is a bad thing, and I cannot worry about what others think. I care about the thoughts of very few people; the people I love matter, my friends matter, my coaching clients matter. One person out of 400+ listeners of the show and 1,000+ readers is not going to affect me. Are there others that felt the same as they did? Probably.
The bottom line is this, loyal readers. The popularity of this blog over the past 6 years, and of the podcast, was, and is, based on the fact that I (we) share triumphs and are honest about our (my) challenges. Yes, I agree with the emailer that it seems that I am not completing a lot of events lately, and it bothers me also. But these events were not sprint triathlons, or 5K’s, or 10K’s, or even half marathons. All of those I have completed and done OK during. The events I have had issues with were the 50K, the 12-hour event, and now this one. I refuse, REFUSE, to let a lone voice “harsh my buzz” (as we used to say back in the 70’s). There are scores of blogs and podcasts done by people who never say anything about their issues and challenges. People who run 7:00 miles and stand on the podium every race. If that is what is needed to motivate, by all means, use it. This is not going to be that kind of blog or that kind of show.
What this race DID do is afford me a lot of time to think about things. The Woods tends to do that. It’s why I never use music. I thrive in this kind of self-reflection.
I lost my way a bit over the past couple of years in a lot of ways and I am happy to say that the light I could always see in the distance, always so far away, is right on top of me now. I am in a good place the last few months, for many reasons, most of them personal. Now it is time to gather up myself, throw my ego out the window, and focus on what I need to do to regain the person I was in 2011-2013.
When discussing this the question was posed to me as “what is your goal, John?” with the idea to say the first thing that popped into my head.
“What is your goal, John?”
“To lose weight”
“Is what you are doing, the 100-mile runs, the long training days, accomplishing that goal?”
“No. It isn’t”
“Then stop it”
That is what I am going to do.
For the foreseeable future, there will be nothing further than 13.1-mile races on my schedule. The goal is now to train to lose weight and get faster. The end goal is to be 220-pounds. Maybe less, but nothing under 200.
The goal is to work on functional strength with a local coach. Not CrossFit per se but something along those lines.
Next summer I will start looking at triathlons once more, but until then it will be running, functional fitness, strength training, and weight loss. Period.
And yes, I will be talking about ALL of this on here and on the show.
I hope it shows more to most than what was expressed to me yesterday.