Spring Energy fuel results

We successfully used Spring Energy gels and drink mix to finish our 2nd 50K in good shape nutrition and hydration wise.

We both had a plan based on the fuels we had, while similar wasn’t exact. At the high level nutrition consisted of primarily Long Haul and Canaberry with the occasional Hill Aide, Power Boost and McRaecovery. This was supplimented with a little candied ginger, a Skratch bar and granola bar for me, some Miur gels and Justin’s PB for Bunny.

I find I don’t care for the Hill Aide much, it’s not gag worthy but it’s also not something I’ll look forward to but the quicker energy and caffeine boost was appreciated. The other Spring energy flavors aren’t bad. They’re about on order of baby food in terms of enticing’ness. Just a little bland and short on flavor for an adult palette.

But over the course of the 50K the one gel every 30(ish) minutes and one bottle of water kept my energy levels stable and even keeled for the entire race. My aches and pains were the primary reason I was glad to see the race end, not hitting up against a wall of lack of energy.

They’re certainly not cheap, standing out as pricey amongst running nutrition but there are a number of coupons available that will knock up to 20% off the price bringing them more in line with other gels or at least less egregiously overpriced.

Preparing for a ‘Real’ Ultra

Having successfully finished two 50k races now I can officially call myself an Ultra Marathoner. Unlike some I feel that the additional 4.868 miles of a 50k over a marathon counts as an Ultra. It’s like doing a Marathon plus a 5k race and then some.  It counts. Period.  The reason I think so it that personally it takes more effort and planning to crank out 31+ miles over marathon. No it is not the same effort as a 50 mile, but it is still requires a little more fuel and hydration, extra time on legs and most importantly the mental strength to go just one more 5k and even more so to go beyond that.  That’s my take on it anyway and frankly I don’t give a rats rear if you’re an elite 50 miler who doesn’t think a 50k qualifies as an Ultra, because it does so there. :p

That said I am not going to lie, I am more than a little terrified to face my first ‘real’ ultra 50 mile race. This weekend’s Go Longer 50k in the subfreezing temperatures and winds reminded me just how horrible the pain can be during a race and at the end of 31 miles; now add on top of that another 19 miles and I am frankly challenged to wrap my mind around how I’m going to be able to do that.  Saturday was a real struggle for me. I hurt, a lot, mainly because of the cold. My head was in a bad place due to fear of some unknowns and the cold wind just made me feel absolutely miserable. It was my turn to be down and need support and that is exactly what I got. Trex was more than upbeat and cheerful the whole way and helped me not to sink too far into the doldrums. I am grateful.

So if I have learned anything from this journey it is to trust my training, stick to the plan (as best I can), lean on your partner if needed, and remember that with every distance the accomplishment is going past the wall, and the wall comes when it comes.

So that’s all there is to it. Right? I mean really it’s just tackling a little less than two marathons back to back. Right? As if one marathon isn’t hard enough?!!! Why am I doing this? (((Begin Panic Attack)))

…..  10 minutes later  (((End Panic Attack)))

Okay with that over and done with I can resume my plans to pack and prep for Rocky. I have exactly one day off every year, today, MLK Day, when my kids are in school, the spouse is at work, and it’s an observed company holiday for me. So after I write this post I will make the most of my time and pack and plan for my race. I actually enjoy packing and prepping for a race, so it will be nice to do it without constant interruption. But before I start packing I am reviewing what I learned from this weekend, revising my To-Do and packing lists, and making notes to ensure I prep and pack having gained more insight. So here’s a list of things I learned from this weekend:

I learned that I can’t eat nearly as much food as I planned, but that having it sorted in go bags was brilliant and saved time. Some tweak need to be made to how label/number by bag sets.

I learned that a combo of Spring Energy fuel with some Huma and PB, Hot Chocolate and Hot Broth sprinkled in does a body good.

I also learned that subfreezing temps slows me way down at the aid stations because my whole body is stiff and my hands are shaking and ridged. Let’s hope it’s not this bad at Rocky.

I learned I should have remembered to use handwarmers on my exposed bottles to prevent freezing. If it hadn’t been below freezing and the straws on my bottles hadn’t frozen I could have saved more time in and out of rest stops.

I learned I need to have rubber gloves or a dry change of gloves so I can more quickly refill my bottles without having to expose my fingers in extreme cold temps.

I learned I am going to have to use the volunteers at the aid stations and need to have an efficient method for handing off my bottles and drink mixes so that the required communication and time are minimal. For this I plan to separate my food and drink mixes and I plan to rotate 4 bottles in my pack and have pre-filled bottles in my drop bag. Two full and two empty so I can easily add mix to empty bottles and just hand those to be refilled. I actually had this setup ready for this weekend but I failed to execute my plan due to a few issues. First I still had water in my front bottles when I arrived at the car aid stations. So rather than swap them I opted to refill them. Two I struggled with getting to my empty bottles stored in the back because the rear storage in my Nathan Vapor Krar 12L is nearly inaccessible without taking the damn thing off or having Trex help me retrieve stuff. I find this to be dangerous on trails as I am likely to trip doing this, especially in the dark. Which is the reason I just bought a Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set. I lucked out and it was on sale today so it should arrive just in time for the trip.

I learned that sticking to Trex’s well planned out pacing workouts does the trick, except for when one of us decides to break pace and “reel-in” some other runners with whom we were not technically competing since they weren’t even doing the same distance as us.

I learned that Altra Men’s Paradigms sort of fit my feet. Remind me to rant about shoe sizing in a later post.

And most of all I learned that I am very very lucky, fortunate, and grateful to have a wingman like Trex by my side.

50 Mile 6 weeks out

We’re coming up on 5 weeks out now. Over the next 3 weeks we have a 40K and a 50K LSD training run and then we start tapering 3 weeks out for our Rocky Raccoon 50M.

My knees, specifically the tendons on the back of my knees are being a bit of a bother and have been off and on since our inaugural entry into Ultra territory 6 weeks ago. I’ve been using voodoo witchdoctor stuff, i.e. CBD oil as both an ingestion and a targeted lotion. Does it help? No way to know without a time machine to go back and not use it.

Will I be able to go 50 Miles in Huntsville Texas on February 9th? No way to know without a time machine to go forward to February 10th and ask myself.

Some days 50 miles doesn’t seem out of the question, other days it seems and feels pretty daunting. I know people that have done 100 miles, multiples, I even know by second runner (same thing as a second cousin which I just made up) people that have gone 200+ miles in one session.

But take for example our 30K run this last Sunday. We started off well and had some really good negative splits on the back half, hitting 9 and 10 minute miles for the latter half. To put that in perspective my best 5K time is 8:50 (ish) minute miles. (Remember I weigh around 60lbs more than the next heaviest ultra runner I’m aware of). So hitting 9’s after already having run 15 miles is for me an accomplishment.

Last night at midnight I did a 5K, Race into the New Year by Runners World in Tulsa, with an average of 9:14. I didn’t feel like I had much more to give at the time. A race at the end of the day is not the same as a race first thing in the morning.

After the 30K run did I have another 32 miles in me? Sheesh consider that statement. I ran 18 miles as a training run but will be running 32 MORE miles after that point in 6 weeks. That’s when it becomes rather daunting. At the end of the 30K I was feeling okay but not really a ‘let’s do another 32 miles’ kind of way.

The results of our training runs are focusing my pace plans for Rocky and as they should. I’m using the data to dial in what I think is a sustainable run / walk pattern for 50 miles.

A problem I have is the first time I go for a new distance I make the same mistakes. Set a goal time that’s only really obtainable under optimal conditions – nutrition and hyrdation perfectly on point, well rested, well motivated and in the right mental place. Go out too fast and literally, almost, crash and burn around the 2/3rd mark as a result with blown quads or calves suffering from major over-stress cramping.

I’ve mentioned it before but this time my primary goal time is 14:59:59, my secondary goal time is under 14:00:00. As long as I finish the race by coming in under the 15 hour cutoff that’s my goal.

To give us some slack I’ve calculated our personal cut off times for every aid station based on flat distance with a 14 hour finish time. This gives us an hour’s leeway. It doesn’t take into account terrain or darkness because I have no way of really knowing any of that. The best I can do is say, on average, we need to leave aid station X at X:XX o’clock in order to maintain our goal time. I know we’ll get some extra time on some splits because the terrain will be easier and I know we’ll lose some time on some because it’ll be harder or in the dark. Overall though I have a chart of times for all 14 aid stations including the start and finish.

Which is another thing, we’re not going to count miles, we’re going to count aid stations. We’re going to count up for AS’s reached on the first lap and then count down for AS’s left on the second lap. I think mentally that might be some minor boost “We’ve knocked out X of these things, go us!” early on and “We only have X more to go.” on the back half.

Another thing to look at is no matter what we finish, as long as we finish it’s a 50 mile PR for us. As long as we run more than 31.5 (ish) miles it’s a PR for distance. And as long as we run longer than 8 hours it’s a PR for time. And it’ll be the first race in Texas, not really a PR but it is a first. So that’s 3 PR’s we are likely to walk away from Rocky with.

Je suis prête

On the heals of our first ultra we ran our last long race/runs this weekend, a combo 5K/15K street race followed by nearly 19k on our usual trail loops on Turkey mountain to complete the distance. As mentioned in recent posts Trex has been bouting with injury and this was our last chance at a solid long run before we start the taper.  In total we logged 24+ miles, just shy of our goal, but a strong comeback in my opinion, in spite of the significant amount of pain we both experienced during and now after the runs.

Speaking of heels, it seems that mine took a bit of a beating during our 5/15K combo which was made worse on the trail, and now I have a nasty swollen red lump at the back of my heel that hurts quite a bit when I walk. So I am elevating it and icing it in hopes that there is no real injury, because being injured this close to our race would “sucks major donkey balls,” to quote my RH.

having a plan B–an alternative exercise routine to stick to during downtime, is extremely crucial for your mental game.

I took time off running and have been cross training with Trex since I frankly didn’t want to suffer injury as a result of over training, and had had a few early signs of things growing a bit unhappy with me right about the same time his foot started giving him fits. So in a show of solidarity and to grow my cross training muscles I joined him in his downtime in efforts to minimize the impacts of our grueling running schedule on my own body. Frankly I feel it did us some good to take some time to do more alternative exercises. I think we both needed to find some greater balance in our approach to running and sometimes being forced to is how it has to happen.

In an effort to maintain my cardio and core strength I have reacquainted myself with the love of the water, and have been swimming in addition to doing stationary bikes and weight exercises along side Trex. We also tried aqua jogging which I find to be quite awkward, although a good cardio workout, when done without the jogger belt. It will take more time to get used to this exercise and in the end it is rather boring which makes it more of a challenge to maintain focus while doing, that and frankly I feel ridiculous doing it!

But the key take away from this experience, for me, has been that having a b plan–an alternative exercise routine to stick to during downtime, is extremely crucial for your mental game. I for one found it very beneficial to be productive physically, even if it wasn’t gaining me ground in my running, because it has been a chance to practice fighting off those pesky mental demons that like to taunt and try to scare me into thinking I’m not ready.

I fully understand the impact to my bodily training by not running. It is extremely difficult to face a race feeling that you may be under prepared physically, but it is crucial to remember your training, and be prepared to face down those mental demons that try to tell you that: a few weeks of not running has undone nearly 2 years of base training. A BOLD FACED LIE!  I am using this time to hone my positive self talk skills, practice how to be supportive to my partner–who is facing those demons daily, and just as importantly to slay my own demons.  And after yesterday’s battle on the streets and trails I know that my plan B has been working. Je suis prête. 

Injury – Run Through or Take Off?

As mileage goes up as we’re working through the plan the wear and tear is becoming a thing. Our last two weekends were short by a few miles off the plan. There was still 50 miles last week but it should have been 55 for example.

Weekend before last was an especially hard day and having the wrong shoes by mistake didn’t help and I ended up with extremely sore feet, as in a sensation like getting stabbed with a dull knife every time my foot landed.

One of the odd things I’ve had going on with me for quite some time is off and on I’ll get a sensation that at first feels like the sock or insole of my right foot has folded up causing a crease under my forefoot. The first time I had this was probably 18 months ago and I blamed it on a new pair of socks I was trying out (Darn Tough Socks). As it turns out there is nothing wrong with Darn Tough Socks it was my foot.

Anyway… I made the decision to cut last Sunday’s run a bit short, 26K instead of the 35K we had on the plan. And I took yesterday off which was a split 20K of 10K in the morning and another 10K in the evening.

So… this is the one exception I can allow to my mantra, “If it’s a run day you run.”. Injury that might lead to being forced to take an extended time off and you cannot ‘run through’ is the one thing. Case in point, this weekend was a 32 mile weekend even with the short day and I ran it with a cold/flu. It’s physical injury that can make me take pause and reflect.

In your own running you will always have to be the judge of if you need time off or not. From personal experience and the reason for my “run day you run” philosophy is that taking a day off is a very slippery slope and for most people very easily leads to another day off, then another and before long you’re finding other reasons to not run, some possibly valid, some not so much.

Everyone though has to ask that question, why am I doing this? Is it to lose weight? To get healthier and potentially live longer? To push yourself past where you thought you could? To find your own physical and mental limits?

The reasons matter and will drive the impetus to get out there each training day. But regardless of the why you’re running and totally regardless of how far you run, in the event of injury be as impartial and reflective as you can be before you decide on running through an injury and just as importantly before you decide to skip a day. You do not want to cause permanent injury either to yourself physically or to yourself mentally. The decision to take a break or just move on to something else shouldn’t be forced upon you because you broke something or because it was just the easy way out.

To the pain

“To the pain…” is such a great quote don’t you think?  From a movie filled with great quotes.  “To the pain and beyond” is how I deal with running.  I was having a talk today with someone who runs 3 to 5 miles and she says after mile 1 and until that last mile running is fun for her.   I had to acknowledge it’s not quite that way for me.

The first half mile for me is running through the minor aches and pains of getting things moving again, ankles, shins, knees, abductors, glutes, back or whatever.  At any given time there is something or somethings bitching for attention and complaining about being forced to move at all, much less move at a pace faster than a slow walk.

It’s a whole lot of boring painful foreplay for each singular, brief happy ending.

And after I beat those into a dull murmur then I have the effort of moving my large forward on a continuous basis.   At no time have I had an experience that was ‘effortless’ where I ‘felt like I could run forever’.   The runners high is a lie to quote Portal.

Yet I continue to do this an average of 4.2 days a week over the last 2.5 years.  Why do I do it?  Because of the sense of satisfaction I get out of doing something I didn’t think I could do and that the vast majority of people will never, ever try to do.  It’s a whole lot of boring painful foreplay for each single, brief happy ending.

And in reading race reports and books and blog posts and talking with runners that seems to be why most do it.  To take everything they have and haul it up to that giant wall of pain and then punch through it.  The pain doesn’t get any less, it doesn’t go away, once you break down that wall and you may get hit by falling bricks and you claw your way through the hole but for most of us just getting through that wall, even though we know another wall is coming up, is enough.

The end justifies the pain so to speak.

Is there a hundred out there?

Ever since I met Rabbit and learned of her accomplishments… well she made me question just how far I should go on this crazy journey I’m on.

Hand to heart when I started I had no intentions of doing any races. None, zero, zip.   That was two years and 3 months ago (June 2016).

“You could do that.  You can’t do that.  You can do that.  You can’t do that.  You won’t know unless you try.”

18 months I had no intention of ever doing more than maybe a half marathon.  I even designed and 3D printed a PR display that only went up to half marathon.

And then I met Rabbit who, as I’ve mentioned before, the first question she asked after we met for the first time in person was did I run or something like after she saw me wearing a pair of Altra Lone Peak 2.5’s as my daily shoes.

Since then we’ve shared stories of runs, opinions of running, gear and training.  In spite of our 1500 miles of distance apart we’ve even run together albeit in a virtual race.

Somewhere in there after I made her acquaintance, I find myself signed up, cash paid and travel plans made for not only a 50K in 10 weeks (OMG) but a 50Mile in 5 months (OMFG).

For those of you for whom these are mere training run distances now, do think back and remember a time when you weren’t quite as awesome as you are now and what you went through to get to where you are now.

And now I’m reading race reports of 100 mile races.  I’m skimming and moving on from the race reports by runners who talk about their PR’s and 8 minute paces for 100 miles and their place on the podium.

I’m not ‘casting shade’ on these runners, their abilities are awesome, no doubt about it.  But there’s absolutely nothing relatable to their reports for me.   I can barely hold a sub 9 minute pace for a 5K and it had better be cold and non-hilly that day.

No the race reports that resonate with me are the ones by the folks who worry about making the cut offs.  The ones who push through enormous, soul shattering amounts of pain both mentally and physically to cross that finish line before the last seconds tick off.   I read how they trip and fall, wrenching body and mind, their battles with darkness, hallucinations, nutrition, hydration and boredom.  Their tales of everything that goes wrong, travel plans, forgetting to pick up their head lamps, trying new foods and really regretting it, but most of all the walls they have to break through to keep putting one foot in front of another make me try to figure out how, when, if this might be me one day.

And my association with Rabbit and her endeavors in this ridiculous sport we participate in and there’s an ear worm in my head that plays over and over, “You could do that.  You can’t do that.  You can do that.  You can’t do that.  You won’t know unless you try.” make me believe it might be possible one day.

Note I have my own walls to worry about in this regard, age, weight, training time and let’s face it sheer physical resources.  But you know what?  I’m pretty sure that if such a time comes that I let this flight of fancy take root and become a reality some day that Bunny and Rabbit will be encouraging me the whole way and I’m pretty sure one or both of them will be there force feeding me liquids and calories, making sure I don’t leave an aid station without everything I need to keep pushing forward.

A note about Anchors

I have run well over 1000 miles with Trex, including during my (our) most triumphant and worst races thus far in my (our) running careers, and from my perspective he is most definitely my Anchor.  On this we agree. It’s just we don’t quite agree on which particular definition of the word applies to our partnership.   While Trex has this nagging feeling that he is dragging behind and slowing me down he is anything but that. So allow me to set the record straight.

Anchor leg
anchor leg is the final position in a relay race. Typically, the anchor leg of a relay is given to the fastest or most experienced competitor on a team. The athlete completing the anchor leg of a relay is responsible for making up ground on the race-leader or preserving the lead already secured by their teammates.[1] An anchor leg is typically part of a running relay, but may also be part of swimming, skiing or skating relays.[2][3]

Having swam competitively in HS, I was often the anchor swimmer on relay teams. I can still hear the voices of my swimming sisters yelling my name as sprinted past the other swimmers, cheering me into the wall, and shouting how much they loved me at the moment we all realized we had just earned first place on the podium and qualified for State at our first regional meet.  It was a proud moment in my life and has always stayed with me.  Coming from behind, and over taking my competition was something I thrived on. Ask my family or friends and they can attest to my fierce competitive nature. I love to win.

But a few years ago, while serving as the captain of a Roller Derby team, I had my first daughter and I came to realize that there wasn’t enough room for the fierce competitor in me and the nurturer. This was a hard day.  I realized that in order to be the mother I wanted to be that I had to make room for myself to grow in this capacity. At the time it meant I had to retire my skates because I knew I wasn’t strong enough to balance both sides of my nature. Frankly I am still not, which is why I don’t really compete with anyone but myself in running. Instead I take pride in the fact that I constantly work at balancing being a wife and a mom, with having a full-time (stressful) career, and run long distance. This is no easy task and for me it means keeping my competitive nature in check.

So today I am part of a two person team, and we are our own competition and I am more than okay with this. There simply aren’t enough me hours in the day to let my raging ram loose on the course (I am an Aries btw). While she is in there I don’t have any more time or energy available to do what it takes to complete with the likes of runners such as RAbbit or other women, who dominate the course in my age group, without paying the price of missing out on my family life or falling behind in my career.

So frankly I don’t give it my all, I give it what I can, day in and day out, saving enough for the rest of my life. Sure I most definitely have it in my veins to go faster, but at a serious cost. I have to keep this drive in check to maintain balance. I am my own boat anchor {1}.

an·chor
ˈaNGər/
noun: anchor; plural noun: anchors
1.  a heavy object attached to a rope or chain and used to moor a vessel to the sea bottom, typically one having a metal shank with a ring at one end for the rope and a pair of curved and/or barbed flukes at the other.
2.  a person or thing that provides stability or confidence in an otherwise uncertain situation.

It is because of my natural tendency to want to take off and race to the finish that I have needed a little help learning to stay grounded with running. It has been a learning process and I am more than grateful for Trex’s influence in this area. I have never known anyone as steady like a rock (or an anchor as the case may be) as Trex.

To start, if it is a run day, he runs. His words, not mine. If it is 1 billion degrees outside, raining flaming locusts, and it’s a run day, then he inevitably has some gear for just this occasion, pulls it out, and he runs.  Yes that is a tad bit of an exaggeration, but the analogy holds. I don’t know anyone who is as thoughtful about preparedness, and who is as dedicated to finishing what he starts as Trex. I have adopted this same credo to help maintain a place for running in my life. My family and co-workers understand that running is important to me so if it is a run day, I run; perhaps not as fast as I am able, but I run. Period.

During my runs I have also come to rely on Trex’s metronome-like rhythmic foot falls to keep a steady pace and structured form. This has helped me steadily improve my running and most likely prevented numerous injuries and has ensured I have enough fuel left in the tank to complete the ever increasing distances we have tackled over the past year.

Anchor
A person or feeling one uses to keep his or herself grounded or in a calm state when things are not well. He’s my anchor. You know, he keeps me calm on days everything seems to go wrong.
#anchoring #helpful #anchors #anchor #kind

Lastly,  there have often been days when my busy life has left me feeling like a one arm juggler in a circus, and when my emotions threaten to devour me like the hungry lions perched around the ring. Running has helped to be an outlet for times like these, when I feel, quite literally, like I have to “run off the crazy”. On those day’s Trex is more like my very own #luckdragon helping to pulling me out of my emotional storm by the sound of his steady rhythmic pace, his friendly optimism, and his calm demeanor.   I count myself lucky to have such a running companion.

So I guess in the end Trex was right. He is my #anchor and for it I am #better.

Okay I know, enough with the hashtags already. #whatever

Tearing down the Wall

I have written a bit before about what it’s like to face my personal walls while running, but I encountered an interesting experience during our back-to-back 30K/15K and I feel it is worth a few lines to describe it as it seemed rather significant and useful for future use.  At least to me, myself, and I anyway.

As T-Rex mentioned in his report, I have had a bit of knee pains the past week or so. I don’t think it is my shoes as I am alternating between 4 pairs of shoes and don’t quite have enough miles on them to be the cause. As such that pretty much leaves strain due to weakness & overuse, sooo I am going to have to up my PT game a bit. I have done band exercises (mostly) on the two days a week, that are our only non-run days, but I guess I will have to do them more fervently and frequently.  I would rather not have to do all this work only to bench myself as a result of injury.

Anyways I have had a bit of extra pain while running. Who doesn’t really? So after we started our second long run for the day my knees complained loudly. My right knee especially using rather colorful profanity from the beginning threatening to force me to turn around. The right had griped a lot after our earlier 30k, so during the day I iced it and applied liberal amounts of Biofreeze gel. I don’t know that any of this helped but it made me think I was doing good anyhow.  So not one to listen to “a bunch of b*tchy little [knees],”  I willed them into submission by running long enough for everything to warm up and loosen up. Thankfully this only took about 15 minutes. Bunny 1, knees 0.

So as the pain subsided I found the 7-min/2-min run/walk cadence helped me get into a decent zone faster for the first half of the run. I agree with T-Rex, our runs have improved with the return of the run/walk repeats.  But one problem I have with this pattern is that towards the end of our longest runs I hit a point when the stop/restart of running and walking becomes extremely painful and it feels better to just simply trot than to change gears. So painful in fact that at the restart of the last run of the night, after an extra-long walking bit, both T-Rex and I, in unison, belted out four letter expletives at our discomfort. The pain was real my friends.

It was during the last 3-4 miles or so of our run/walk that I felt my wall beginning to form. Brick by brick. And not the Yellows kind either.  Perhaps it was the hypnotic atmosphere created by the dark, mingled with the strong light of the high full moon, (or the delirium brought on by the pain and late hour), but somehow I was able to consciously observe the construction process in an almost disembodied state which gave me the opportunity to deconstruct the wall before it could form a solid obstacle.  This disconnected deconstruction process struck me as rather remarkable, and as it repeated itself over the last half run cycles, it allowed me the opportunity to meditatively experiment with my thoughts over my state of being. It went something like this….

Muscles: “Everything hurts, we are sooo done with this sh*t.”
Brain: “I concur, this sucks. F@#k it I’m out.”
Conscience Observer: “Wait a minute, we’ve totally been through this before guys, remember? Let me remind you that we have twice this distance to cover in a few months so cut this moaning crap out and let’s finish strong!” (Rocky theme begins to play)
Muscles & Brain: “But it hurts! And it’s hot. And we are tired. And this sucks. And it HURTS!”
Conscience Observer:  “Ya ya heard it all before, shut the hell up, we are just fine and we are damn sure not quitting. Here think of this…. We are half way from finishing our first 50k and the end is nowhere in sight, we are in the middle of the high desert with no aid nearby and, did I mention, we sure as hell aren’t quitting now? So what would we do then?” (Duh duh duuuun)
Muscles  & Brain: “Sh*t.”
Conscience Observer: “That’s what I thought. Now shut it, we’ve got a long way to go.” (Whip crack sound effect)

I know what you’re thinking… but as Sheldon would say “I’m not crazy, my mother had me tested.”

The not-crazy-like-at-all thought cycle continued to roll through my brain, and each time I would conjure up the idea that “we” simply were in the middle of a much longer run and, in fact, had no choice but to carry on. I basically tricked myself into thinking the end wasn’t near and it worked!   Well that is until the next time my muscles and brain tried to unionize and strike, forcing me to remind them of their ‘At Will’ contracts as I cracked my proverbial whip. (cue Devo song).  In those moments I somehow, not through the use of hallucinogens, stepped outside of myself and talked some sense into my brain and body. It was a rather surreal experience. But I am curious to know if other runners have a similar trialogue with themselves, or if perhaps insanity is creeping in with stress and age. Probably the latter. Hoping it’s the former, for Trex’s sake.

While I can’t say that I didn’t struggle with the wall, I can say I learned how to not allow it to form solidly, gaining me the clarity and abatement of the pain needed to reset mid-run. It also gave me hope that I have what it takes mentally to finish Ultra distances.  Or I am mental. Either way as long as I can keep my machine from giving out on me I intend to give it a try.