So, I quit running. It's true. I hate it, I cried about doing it during my last race. It was 50 miles of pure hell and that cry lasted about 20 miles. Ah...but it was a cleansing cry. It wasn't until I ran smack dab into the path of a cow that my crying went into hysterics. I kid you not. I am petrified of cows, 100% scared of them and I was in THEIR cow pasture, running on THEIR turf. Do you know what cows do when you run? They like to chase you. Yep...hysteria ensued when I ran into that cow. I just knew that freaking cow was going to come walking/cantering/galloping (whatever it is Cows do) after me. Well, that dang cow took one look at my sorry crying/sobbing/hysteric ass and just kept on walking past me. I have to say that I did run quicker after she passed.
One thing you need to understand is that I'm not a crier, never have been and never will be (I guess I am now). I have never cried like that in a race, on a run, in a field, on the beach, or anywhere. Heck, I just completed my first 100 miler about four week prior to this race and I didn't even think about crying or quitting during that. What the heck was/is wrong with me?
For many years, running has been my peace, my tranquility, my meditation, and my time. I loved to run and would find any excuse to do it. At mile 2 of this 50 mile race I wanted to quit. I am not quitter, I don't quit and have never thought about quitting anything before. But this one, I wanted to quit for 46 miles...46 because the first 2 miles were fine and after 44 miles of misery, I was so freaking thankful that I only had a few miles left when I finally got to the end that I didn't want to quit then either. It was all those glorious 44 miles in between when I truly questioned what I was doing and why I was doing it. How could I lose my motivation and my desire to do something I love so quickly? Where did it go? I wanted it back, but it's still eluding me. I don't fully understand it and perhaps I'm not meant to.
Even two weeks post the 50 miler, I still have no desire to run. I previously registered for several races between now and December 2015 and I have no desire to run them, just no desire. I have no desire to lace up a pair of running or trail shoes or even clean my hydration pack from my last race. So what if it's moldy, so what if my uneaten Swedish Fish are melted, so what if I can't find my favorite bandanna - so what.
I think I cried that day for what I lost and was then too stubborn to be called a quitter. Even though I was DFL, my motivation or lack thereof, had nothing to do with that. I wanted to quit at mile 2, it just wasn't fun anymore, in fact, I even shouted a few times how much I hated running. I texted my husband and told him that I was never running again and he asked me why I was still running the race. All I could muster was that I was going to quit and wait for my friends at the finish line. I knew I wasn't going to make the cut off. I had some serious issues the entire race. My IT band was killing me, my neck, my shoulders, my arms, you name it, I was miserable. I was peeing blood for almost the entire 13 hours. I was going to quit. It was that plain and simple.
I thought about what I said to my husband, "I am going to quit". It wasn't until I heard those words out loud that they really hit home. I immediately thought how disappointed I would be if I came home and had to tell my daughter that her Mom was a quitter and didn't finish. I know she would have said that it's okay, but I just simply couldn't do it. I simply could not face my child and tell her that I didn't finish a race, what lesson would that teach her? I thought about the oncology appointment I had the next day. I thought about all the people who fight to live and who would give up anything to be on the trails and then I cried some more. I cried because I was being selfish, I cried in triumph - I decided I was NOT going to quit. I decided that I was going to finish if it was the last thing I did. It wasn't until I decided that I was not going to quit that the pain in my legs and the rest of my body subsided.
I learned so many lessons that day. I learned that your mind is the most powerful tool you have. It's not your body that will give up first, it's your mind. I learned that a few kind words from strangers can make one mile more bearable than the last. I learned that I love cut up pineapple at the aid stations. I learned that maybe my disdain for running that day simply means I need to focus my energy on something else. I learned that my friends are the most supportive and I don't even have to explain. I learned that a simple smile and encouraging words meant more to me at mile 36 than I ever imagined. I learned that I didn't have to be embarrassed being the last person to cross the finish. I was grateful for the opportunity to be out there and so very grateful for the awesome volunteers. I learned that I love my friends who came looking for me at the end and helped run me in. I learned that depression after a long race is real. I learned that it's okay to not always be 100% and that it's okay to let others bring you up. I learned that I have no room for those you bring me down. I learned that I need time between long races, time for reflection, time to let my body heal. I learned so much that I'm not quite sure I can even put it into words yet.
While I still have no desire to run, unpack from that race, or even clean my hydration pack, I know that the single most important thing I did that day was finish and fight the demons that entered my head.
I learned that sometimes you have to lose in order to win.
p.s. Who knows, maybe I'll see you on the trail or maybe I'll see you in the sky, or on the beach or in a cow pasture :)