Welp, folks, I am 29 DAYS away from my first 100 mile attempt. I’ve been feeling a bit sentimental lately and thought that this milestone provided a great opportunity to recap my training journey thus far.
My word of focus for 2017 was CONQUER. And I do feel like I have CONQUERED this year. My transition into trail and ultra running has been the most fulfilling and rewarding running experience to date and I think I am finally conquering some of those mental demons.
When I signed up for Brazos Bend 100, I was a completely different person than the one penning this post. As much confidence as I have gained over the past couple of years, I was still very insecure in many ways and felt as though I had a lot to prove to myself (and others, sadly). Committing to races and distances that scared me to death was actually the BEST thing I could have chosen to do.
Admittedly, I haven’t documented this journey very well at all. In fact, I suspect that some of the transformation is directly related to me not sharing every detail and every run. As the fatigue from my increasing mileage began to take over every muscle in my body, so did the weariness of posting on social media. Suddenly, sharing details of every training run seemed a little silly and a lot overwhelming to me. But I began to cherish my training more than ever before. I’ve given this a lot of thought – probably too much – and I think that not posting as much about my training has been the catalyst to my training becoming more authentic.
I have *literally* undergone a transformation. I am unsure if it is visible to the rest of the world, but I when I compare how I felt about myself in March versus how I feel about myself now – it is as if I went from caterpillar to butterfly. Here are some ways in which I have changed for the better:
- Confidence. I can’t even begin to describe the confidence I’ve gained. I don’t think it is a cocky confidence, either. But one that stems from putting my body through A LOT more than I ever imagined it could do and yet my body responded amazingly well.
- Enjoy the process. I have always enjoyed training. I’ve never been one of those people that train in order to race. I’m the opposite. I race in order to train. I wanted to attempt a 100 to push myself to the limits, but also because I just like running long. Running back-to-back runs AND being fortunate enough to be healthy the entire time has been a blessing that I’ll always treasure.
- Consistency is key – not perfection. Anyone that knows me knows that I am a perfectionist – to a point. Being a wife, mother (volleyball mom!!!) and working a full time job required me to face my perfection demons. There were a couple of weeks that I ran 20 miles less than scheduled. Even though I didn’t get all my miles in, I️ was always consistent. And you know what?? I may have struggled mentally within that week, but I haven’t carried forward any guilt from missed miles.
- Trust my instincts and follow my heart. If I had followed a traditional path, I would not have registered for Brazos Bend this year. I would have raced 50 milers and maybe started dabbling at the 100k distance, getting some experience under my belt before jumping to 100 miles. But I knew that I could do it. I knew that I wouldn’t be satisfied if I took the safe route. I was more than willing to fall flat on my face for the chance to try. And, boy, am I glad I trusted my instincts!! More and more, I am making decisions based on feel rather than on intellect. While this may not work in every arena, it has certainly worked in my running world.
- *Failure* is acceptable. Although I haven’t *failed* yet, I fully expected to DNF at Rawhide 50 miler. I was mentally prepared to accept DNF, if it came to that. My self-esteem isn’t no longer tied to a medal or finish time or place or buckle. Not finishing a race isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to me. And if I find myself facing a DNF, I’ll move on. The reason I do this is because I enjoy trails and ultras. I enjoy the community. I enjoy pushing myself and I do actually hope I find my limit one day and have to fight with every fiber of my being to continue.
Hopefully, I’ll be writing about my beautiful, shiny, buckle in 29 short days. But if I fall short of the finish, I know that I’ve already won. I won the day that I committed to this journey. The rewards of this transformation far outweigh the shininess of a single belt buckle.