Sunday, March 25, 2018

Finishing an Ultramarathon

Over the past two days, I posted a couple pictures on Facebook of me and the mountains, but I was somewhat vague on what I was doing.
To be honest, I was participating in a 100-mile (160 kilometer) running/hiking race on a place called Antelope Island, and I didn't want to report anything until I actually crossed the finish line.
Well . . . I did finish, and although I ended near the back of the pack, what matters to me most is that I got it done. Such races are called ultramarathons, and I enjoy them for the emotional and physical challenge they present.
Here are some of the observations I made about my experience:
1, Remember that your ability to finish simply hasn't be the result of your own efforts - Family, friends, and race volunteers have often supported you in your preparation, and you need to give them so much credit for believing that you can do hard things.
2. Keep in mind that people show extraordinary kindness in the most needed moments - In this specific event at mile 70, a total stranger at an aid station volunteered to walk/run with me for the next 30 miles if that would help me finish. For me, that would have been hours and hours of support. And although I graciously said that I would like to complete the race on my own, just knowing that strangers are often willing to help in moments of great difficulty are signs of true greatness and our humanity.
3. Never count anyone out of the race (of life) just because they are having a down moment or their style/pace of running is different from your own - Sometimes, we unfortunately rush to quick judgments or conclusions based only on what we can momentarily observe. I have been in too many races where I have passed a runner who was struggling to only have that same person fly by me with renewed energy 10 miles later. Shedding a little of our certainly can allow us to be more open to new ideas and ways of thinking.
4. Focus on the moment, not on the distance - If I go into a race thinking the amount of distance I still need to go, this thought can almost paralyze you ("Oh, I still have 95 miles to go!"). Rather, just focus on the present moment, and your ability to run or walk at all. Be grateful that you are alive, and you just might be able to see past your own difficulties and notice another runner nearby who is in need of some encouragement..
5. Take care of the small things in your life - Every twenty miles, I washed my feet and put on a fresh pair of socks. This might not seem like a big deal, but unless you do something like this, people often end up with terrible blisters on their feet which can force them to drop from a race. The same thing applies to daily care. Good habits can lead to a happy life.
6. Be grateful for each moment of life, which is never measured in distance of miles, but in courage in the moment - For some people, the hardest thing in life is just getting out of bed due to illness or physical limitations. Those challenges often far exceed our own.
I wish you all great courage in your own "races" of life.

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