One of the many things I love about endurance challenges is how the physical body affects the brain and the mental thought processes.
I did a marathon run yesterday, a fundraiser that I used as a training run for an event coming up in the spring. Unlike most races, after 10 k I was alone for the remaining 32. Running on wooded trails is my preference because of the true peace of wilderness and being with nature, except the surface was quite icy, so after 21 k I reverted to the road. I ran to the Fire Hall turn around point (26k) , running along some beautiful shoreline of St Margarets Bay, Boutiliers Pt and Blacks Point but the wind made it cold on the face. At about 24k, the standard ” how the hell am I going to do another 18k ?” ” why do you keep running these distances?” ” do you really think you can do an ultra”, messages popped up, creating that state of panic, dispair and discouragement . But the cool part is this time it was quickly dismissed after about 5-10 minutes by, “Suck it up, you’ve been down this road before (excuse the pun), so get rid of that tune off and put a replace it with Van Morrison’s “Bright Side of the Road” . ! I have learned that I can’t stay in these dark places or its doom!!!
I decided to replace the message in my mind with – ” Enjoy the sweet sensation that pain may deliver,,, savour the moment rather that think negatively about it, because you WILL break through it, and when you do it will be sweet. But the breakthrough pleasure is not significant without that pain. I also reminded myself not to be so damn self centered and to remember what this event was for, the memory of someone who died of cancer , and for Feed Nova Scotia. The discomfort I was experiencing would end and would be replaced with euphoria. Unlike those suffering from illness, desolation and dispair.
I realized that part of why I do endurance is to go to those dark places by choice , and be reminded of how very lucky I am to have that very choice.
And something really spiritual always happens . at 36 k, I just happened to look up the big hill to my left and I could see a bright yellow jacket. Running adjacent to me were about 200 feet above were the 2 ladies who organized the event. They run out on the trail, (which runs adjacent to the road, but much higher up), to check for me, as I was one of only 4 who ran that distance. So they yelled down ” Are you near the end of your marathon?”, to which I hollered “6k to go!!!”. They cheered me on very loudly and said they’d be waiting for me at the end. You cant imagine what a moral boost that is to have a small cheer like that at this stage . At 38 k they were there again, hooping and hollering for me. I felt renewed and ready to fight the last 4.2 k. When I finally reached the start point at the Bike and Bean, I was only at 40, so it meant I had to keep going to 41.1 and rurn around to get the 42.2 . 5 minutes later my wife Barb passed me on the road and I gave her the 5 fingers and a wave back meaning, I have to rurn around and will finish in 5 minutes. She knows good hand signals from me running. haha. Upon my finish those 2 ladies were also just getting off the trail and we were so happy to see each other. We had a great chat and shared some good stories and I thanked them for their kindness and cheers when I really needed it. I told them that my mother was working through them, ever watching me from above and giving me the boost when I needed it most. Spirit !! Then we went inside to the cafe for the reward—seeing my best friend and life long partner Barb, a warm surrounding with a few other runners and the best Latte I have tasted in ages! Sitting down, reveling in the day, accomplishments and the sweet sensation of muscular soreness and the internal sensation of accomplishement. All of these things are so priceless . its what fuels me, cures my ills, feed my soul and keeps me alive!