Monday, April 02, 2012

second Post from
first post from

Friday, July 29, 2011

Death Race Eve

After a wicked case of nerves for the better part of the day ( starting around 5am ) I am finally at peace again about what ever is going to happen tomorrow. I'm not worried about being in a race - I'm just going for an ultra long hike in the mountains. I'm not concerned about my time, I'm preparing for a 24 hour journey. If it takes less time than that , bonus!!

The only way to finish this event is if finishing is more important than the pain,, which it is.

Also, now that I've been to the mandatory pre-race meeting and seen the 36% finish rate prospects, I really do believe I will be in that number.

GO DEATH RACERS!!!! Via con Dios.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Gone Mental - Now Spiritual

Previously I've looked at some basic mental attitudes and strategies to get you through the relatively easy portion. ( hopefully at least half!!! )

Now, how do you hold on to your sanity as you attempt to push your body WAY beyond what it is agreeing to??

1) You need a higher purpose.
2) That purpose has to mean more to you than temporary physical pain.

DISCLAIMER: I do not endorse doing permanent injury for the sake of any sport. You take all responsibility for pushing past temporary pain and causing permanent injury to yourself.

Many runners, simply love to run. And that love of running turns into a talent for long distance running. But, in order to continue on despite even temporary agony, you need more than a love of running; you need to believe there is a higher purpose for finishing the race. Something that continues and even grows stronger in the face of pain, when love of running has become a string of profanity in your memory.

For some that higher purpose may be strictly glory and fame, but honestly I have never met anyone like that. For some it may be a simple exercise in determination or self affirmation. Some people do see a metaphorical higher purpose like the race representing life's struggle that we are all faced with together on our collective journeys.

For myself it has elements of the above, but more importantly to me it is an expectation - an expectation that as I become weak, God becomes stronger in me.

Let me try to explain.

As I become physically, mentally, emotionally and yes even spiritually weakened, ( by 6, 12, or 24 hours of running) God is there in a way that is not possible when my defenses are at full strength and all my favourite comforts and distractions are freely available. I hear Him speaking to me, causing me to reassess my priorities in life and appreciate all the little things.

Just as Isaac Penington advises in "Letters on Spiritual Virtues" I subscribe to the philosophy that when and if you are seeking God, you should "Keep yourself where you have felt the Lord visit you in the past." and that has been good advice in my experience.

I recognize that this is still not a complete answer to "why bother?" or "what makes that sufficient motivation?" but the reality is it gets much more difficult to convey beyond this point. I continue on....

The main motivation beyond this initial simple answer is a desire to be changed - changed by God, not by myself. It is my expectation and experience that this becomes increasingly more likely as my physical strengths are sapped completely away from me over the hours and miles.

My character flaws become more obvious to me and are easily scrutinized and let go. The things I have that I need to be more thankful for also become that much more obvious and important to me. The result is that as I let myself be torn down, God is able to put me back together is a way that is not perfect but is a bit closer to His intention of how I should be.

With only 4 full days to go before the death race, I think I have finally been able to turn some of the key driving elements into words. As I do so I realize that just like in appreciating a sensitive physical phenomena, setting up a measurement construct to monitor or measure that phenomena will negatively affect the thing being measured.

I expect to be changed by this experience. Please don't try to measure that.

Going Mental (Part 2)

Back to running for a few moments..

It is hard to convey the mental difficulty presented in running an ultra. As with the physical challenge, the mental effort increases exponentially with time. It is not a linear increase or simple matter of "keeping it together" till the end.

As early as the training runs right up till the finish line, the mental obstacles appear non-stop and it is a constant struggle to deal with them.

There are so many other things I could be doing right now.
That was far enough.
I don't belong here with these people.
I didn't train enough.
I didn't recover enough.
I didn't drink/eat/sleep enough.
Maybe today is just not my day
My feet hurt.
My legs feel like cement.
My stomach hurts.
I think there's something wrong with my knee.
I don't need this in my life right now.

First of all, when things are good this is all furthest from the mind; which is exactly the way it should stay as long as possible. How do you do that? Simple - run your own race. Run your pace not someone else's. Stick with your strategy and listen to your body for making adjustments to that strategy. Remember that part of listening to your body is what your body has told you in the past as well. (what works and what doesn't work; what happens when you've gone out too hard, gotten dehydrated, etc.. )

Staving off mental obstacles by feeling good should get you approximately half way if you've put in the physical preparation, but inevitably things will get tough and those first few realizations also need to be accepted and embraced and not allowed to turn into doubts. At this point it is a simple matter to think about how great it is to be healthy and strong and able bodied when there are so many people who are not so fortunate. Maybe you are even running specifically for a cause (large or small) Maybe you have thought about dedicating a run to someone battling cancer or other debilitating disease. Think about how they struggle through weeks of treatment or therapy which are MUCH more grueling than any ultra-marathon.

If focusing on the dedication of others does not get you through to the end, chances are you are going to turn to a self-motivated approach for the final stage of the mental battle....