Monday, October 29, 2012
Thoughts on 24 The Hard Way
Going into the race I wasn't feeling my best. Wednesday I went to work not feeling well, and progressively got worse as the day wore on. By days end, I was in the doctor's office with strep throat and a prescription for an antibiotic. I went home and went to bed. Thursday I stayed home from work and rested, and was feeling better by the end of the day. Friday I woke up feeling great. I was still determined to do the race, but wasn't sure how I would do or how far I would go. I still had to try.
I thought doing a one mile loop continuously for the better part of a day would get awfully boring. Surprisingly it wasn't. I don't know how, but it wasn't. There were lots of people to see, nature to watch, conversations to eavesdrop on that I didn't find myself getting bored. About 5 hours in I put my iPod in and started listening to it because I was getting tired of my own thoughts and wanted a distraction from the growing aches and pains that were developing.
I talked with a lot of interesting people. Met people from California, Washington, Minnesota, Australia, Texas, Philly, and right down the block. I got to hear lots of neat stories and listen to some boring ones. I heard tales of ultras gone wrong, ultras gone right, PR's, kids, jobs and wild adventures. Seems like I did FAR more listening than talking. Maybe because I didn't want to bore people like some people were boring me. More than once I would say I had to stop and tie my shoe, or stretch or something just to get away from someone. But really, it just seemed like most people I came upon just wanted to talk, and didn't bother to ask questions of me. Unless prodded, I'm not going to blabber on and on just to hear my own voice. Nobody cares... and if they act like they do, they're probably just being polite.
I'm an extrovert by nature. I like talking to people and being silly, but I really become an introvert on long stuff like this. I prefer silence or the voices in my head to actual conversations. I like to look around and listen to nature or just take it all in. I like to mull things over or work things out, or just worry about what they will do when they find my body after I fall over dead on the trail after a zombie attack. You know- real stuff.
I had a LOT of time to think out there. Think about lots of things. But the thing I thought about the most was: Why do I do this? It's hard to have a good reason for it. I guess it's my drug of choice. Nothing makes me feel more.... alive than when I'm doing something so long that I feel every emotion that you can feel as a human. Anger, happiness, sadness, doubt, confusion, worry, elation, fright, regret, etc.
Some people use substances to get to the extreme emotions we have as humans. I use sport.
I enjoy the polar opposites of feeling wild elation and happiness, and then feeling so low and crying in pain or frustration. I don't know how to explain it.
There was a moment on the course where I was hurting. I think it was probably around mile 33. Hips, lower back, hammys, feet and I was walking along just trying to zone out. Then I went through the aid station, got a drink of Coke and Rhianna's "Umbrella" comes on my iPod and all of a sudden I feel no pain and I'm dancing out of the aid station feeling like a million bucks. Was it the Coke? The song? A weird switch flipping in my brain? Early onset dementia? I don't know, but those wildly swinging emotions are my drug. It's why I do this. I enjoy it in some strange way.
Feeling such a wide range of emotions makes me feel alive. I don't get those feelings doing the mundane things of everyday life. Going to work, grocery shopping, doing laundry, visiting family, playing fetch, cleaning the house. I enjoy those things in different ways, but none of those have me on the edge. I love being on the edge of my emotions while challenging my phyical limits. It's what makes me feel like there is purpose to what I'm doing in the other hours of my life. In our experience as humans we have to push ourselves to our limits to find out what we are capable of.
And that's why I like this so much.
Other endurance junkies will understand.