Mac 50K this year was fantastic! Cool, rainy, muddy, friends, laughter, perfection…
Mac is my favorite race, in one of my favorite places in the world.
I approached the race as a long and supported run to practice for the event I have in September. I was testing gear, making sure of my shoe choice, practicing my new-found downhill skills and I HAD TO WORK on fueling. This was my chance to put it all together and watch it work.
In the back of my head I knew I had run this race in 8:04 in 2015. So I’ll go ahead and admit that yes, I had a trying-to-ignore-it-but-it-was-out-there goal, to try to break 8 hours. I was trying not to think about that. It was NOT the point of the day.
Ultimately, I nailed everything I set out to do.
SOME MAJOR WINS!
Fueling was better than it has ever been.
Gut stayed intact.
Loved my Altras. (I still have all my remaining toe nails!)
Comfy with my hydration pack and know where to stash everything.
FINALLY got to run an entire 50K with my friend/running partner Josh.
Spencer placed 8th overall. He had a fantastic run and wrote a great blog about it. Read it here.
Wendie paced Josh and I the last 5 miles, after cheering and crewing for us the entire day.
It was a perfect day.
From ‘The Saddle’ (last aid station) to the finish line is about 5 miles or so.
Everyone was muddy and tired. The finish line was really looking good at this point. I’d slipped and gone down in the mud at least 3 times. I was an unharmed, total mud ball head to toe. 🙂
Josh knew my not-talking-about-it-goal. I could see him assessing the situation. He knew we were in a race against the clock to break 8 hours. We were appropriately tired, but totally healthy. We COULD pull it off, if we picked up the pace.
I knew it.
I was just pretending to ignore it.
A portion of my brain was totally fine with not finding that goal.
To hit that goal would mean that we would have to run consistently and fairly hard for the remainder of the course.
That’s a lot of hard work at the end of a whole lot of hard work.
It had been a day of huge wins ALREADY. I didn’t even have to cross the finish line to have felt like the day was a smashing success.
But as I was starting to push the edges, with Josh speeding up, my brain was busy trying to convince me that we just didn’t need to put in the extra effort to hit that goal…
‘Bets. Just walk.
You’re going to finish close to last year’s time anyway. Close is good.
It’s fine to ease back now, Spencer and Josh and Wendie are still going to be proud of you no matter what.
This was a tough course. Take it easy. You’ve earned easy.
Just being out here is enough.’
I recognized that my head and her subtly negative voices were trying to shut things down.
‘Head’ management is very much part of the training for ultras. You literally have to practice making sure your head doesn’t talk you out of completing what needs to be done.
This is always scary and fascinating to me. Sometimes my brain drags out ‘the big guns’ and I really have to fight to just keep breathing and moving. This time – since this race was essentially a practice run and I was surrounded by friends I trusted deeply – I decided I would just watch and see what demon/trick/weapon my head was going to try to drag out into the light…
My brain went straight for it’s old friend laziness.
‘Take it easy, you’ve earned easy. There’s no harm in just walking at this point…’
I have had years of practice being lazy. Honestly, it’s the natural go to for me. And at this point in the race – 26ish miles in – my legs and back were screaming for me to just. stop. running. My belly wasn’t thrilled. My feet hurt. I had these OBNOXIOUS and painful adductor cramps violently grabbing hold of my upper, inner thigh – and stopping me dead in my tracks a few times.
My body was doing it’s part to try to stop me.
My brain just joined in on the chorus.
I’ve done a few races at this distance, so I can now say that I have been here before in some form or fashion. This is the point where I simply have to buckle down and keep moving forward as best I can. And I have all kinds of tricks stashed away to IGNORE or quiet the chatter in my head that isn’t productive or healthy or nice. I usually just kind of blank out without fully defining whatever weapon my brain has chosen, count steps, breathe, and try my best to ignore whatever tricks my head is playing.
But this time I instantly recognized laziness.
And it was really pretty cool to define it, understand it and then just accept it for what it is.
I didn’t bother trying to evict or ignore the thoughts.
I sure as hell didn’t give into it.
I just decided to run with it – and tire it out.
Here’s where my thinking went… When I’m on a training run – and my coach has given me parameters – I always go straight for the middle or low end of whatever it is that I’m being told to work on. Unless specifically told to do so, I rarely push to the outer, upper edges or beyond in training on my own.
It’s a subtle, persistent form of laziness.
I mean training to run ultras is hard work in and of itself. I’ve done a lot of hard work to get to this point and lose weight and reverse T2 diabetes. So does it really matter that I’m just a tad bit lazy about some aspects of training?
To be clear – I’m not being hard on myself or beating myself up.
I ran a freaking great run.
And this ‘work’ going on in my head around battling and understanding laziness was fantastic and constructive.
I ultimately kept on Josh and Wendie’s heels and PUSHED hard to the finish. I put down faster miles at the end than I had most of the day.
I’m just acknowledging that I recognized the voice screaming in my head as my long-lost, best-forgotten, crappy ex-best friend named laziness.
And I decided that I don’t want to be friends anymore.
So I just ran away. 🙂
I ignored the normal long-run pains and tiredness and just PUSHED hard to the finish. My training allows for that. My body was working her butt off. And this really was a training run – so why not PUSH hard and see what happened?
As I ran, in the back of my head the idea was clanging around that I am SO FREAKING CAPABLE of being and doing so much more.
If I’m given the chance to push hard, do I always give it my all? Or do I get lazy?
It’s an idea that I just can’t let go of…
What exactly would I be capable of, if I refused to let laziness win?
I got home and Spencer and I were debriefing the race. I walked through the pieces that went great; fuel, shoes, handling the wicked leg cramps. Spencer and I both agreed that we could clearly see the core and strength work we’re doing with Jordan paying off as I was able to manage the slides and the muddy, steep terrain really well. And then I ran faster miles at the end…
I was really proud of the effort I gave at Mac. I’d had a good day.
I also told him that I recognize I get lazy in some of the targeted training runs during a training cycle. I cheat myself and aim for good enough/middle of the road. By doing what I’m told – instead of really testing the limits. I told Spencer I was going to work on learning to push myself harder when given the choice. I confessed that I know that I sometimes let myself off the hook when I really should be capitalizing on the opportunity to push to another level.
The last few miles of the Mac I kept thinking…
I’ve come so far and I’m more in love with trail running and my body is doing things I never, ever thought she was capable of. And I know without a doubt that I am capable of still more strength and more growth and more change and well… just more good stuff.
Laziness isn’t going to win this race. Not this time. I’m going to keep training to out run it.