Even though I write less often about the ultra...I reflect back on the experience often. The moments I find myself lost in a run are usually the moments I suddenly find myself lost deep in memories of the moments of 50 miles. Sometimes I still feel a sense of longing or "post-race blues"...a genuine desire to just want to be back in that moment. Was it really real? Did it really happen? How did it go by so fast? How did it feel as if it would never arrive and now in the blink of an eye I am 2 months past that day?
I still, myself, wonder "Why Ultra?" Or "When did I truly decide...Yes. Ultra?"
Today I read the following quote in Alberto Salazar's book, 14 Minutes:
"Training for and running Comrades would bring together all the conflicting and convergent themes that had governed my life."
It is not a "perfect" fit...but the quote made me stop and reflect...and I re-read the quote several times. There was something about it that resonated well with me.
I set out on the Ultra journey not to prove anything to anyone else. But definitely to prove something to myself.
So. When Ultra? A day early this year...last March. I was running the trails on what is typically a day off with sweet friends. Friends that were dear enough to consider me family and include me in their "sister" outings. A memory I remember fondly but one so vivid...I still remember my exact feelings and the exact moment I made the statement "Well I would never run an ultra. I don't have time for that kind of thing."
I was immediately appalled and ashamed by my own statement. But I kept my feelings to myself and simply went home and reflected. Sure, training for anything takes a certain amount of time and dedication. But I didn't truly believe my words. They felt far from genuine, shallow and very much like an excuse.
Why was I already setting myself up for failure in this area? When would I ever see myself as someone who is good enough? Capable enough? When would I ever just let go and just dive in after dreams headfirst? When would I simply stop selling myself short? When would I stop being afraid?
When Salazar mentions "themes"...I think these are my themes I wanted to finally face. Yes. I do set goals and go after them. Big goals. Small goals. All types of goals. But often just as I am about to take a true risk. One totally unexpected. One where I could possibly fail. I back away. Back into a zone of comfort.
I wanted to push myself into the uncomfortable. I wanted to shoot for a goal I had no idea whether or not I was capable. I wanted to truly cherish the triumphs and the trials of the journey. I wanted to prove to myself I could stay strong through it all. I wanted to chase a dream that truly scared me. And successful or not...I wanted to value each lesson I learned along the way. I wanted to come out stronger with more pride and true appreciation for myself on the other side.
The race is over. I successfully crossed the finish line. Yes. But I also feel like my other sub-goals of "Why Ultra" were accomplished. I am constantly seeking out opportunities to learn more about myself. But the Ultra was a big opportunity...one where at the end I simply felt peace in knowing...I pushed myself into the unknown, was brave enough to continue on even when I had no idea what would happen, and (I know I say this far too often lately)...I allowed myself to realize I am truly worth it. Capable. Strong. Confident. Possible. If I leave the door open. I am Possible. Full of Possibility. And Potential. That makes me happy. And brings me peace.