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"Turning mistakes into gold." -Eddie Veder

Debriefing. Discovering yourself in the wilderness. We must lose ourselves to find ourselves.
...these are all phrases I was brain-washed with as a Recreational Leadership Minor.

Ok, so if that last one is true, I must really be FOUND.

One of my goals this year was to discover more about myself, where my motivation comes from, and what works for me athletically.

I was contemplating this while running in negative temps at 4am (I woke up at 2:30am that morning I was just so excited to suffer). I ran 20 miles with only a 4oz sip of water, no salt, no electrolytes, no food (ok, I had a cookie). This was fun. It was filled with laughter. I mean, HEY, at least we weren't post-holing (sinking) all morning right?

So, what does it mean if the more miserable, awful, and suffer-filled a run becomes, the more I get satisfaction from it? I love bad trails. Blisters don't bother me, a lack of sleep is normal, and post-holing...well, that's just funny.

Scott Jurek talks about taking pleasure from pain in his book Eat and Run. I like to complain about pain. I don't mind it, but I don't pleasure from it. But suffering... I think that's different.

I am far better suited for a run like Hardrock 100 (ridiculously steep and technical) than a race like Pony Express 100 (flat, non-technical). As for Barkley 100 (the other notorious difficult race), well... anyone who knows me knows that if I started on one Barkley loop search and rescue would be out looking for me the next day.

Perhaps the satisfaction is from pitting myself against everything that can go wrong, and asking the universe if that's all they have.

I've also been paying attention to my attitude. If I'm irritated I find the irritation source humorous, and I can use it as a fuel source (it's better than creamed honey) and run with it for hours. Most of the time, my attitude fluctuates between the Edder Vedder song "Rise" and Weezer's "Troublemaker."

The strengths (like finding pleasure and humor in a suffer-fest) and attitudes are tools to use when the running gets tough. Or, at least I hope they will be. I can't be serious while racing, it just tastes bad. If I am happy or content, well, I imagine it would be like when I was content to walk for nearly 8 miles during my first 50 mile race. I was perfectly happy and content to just keep walking. Had I allowed (or encouraged) myself to get angry or find humor in the pain, I probably could've run every step that I walked.

What little discoveries have you made about yourself in the wilderness?


  1. Discovery: When during a very long run (30 to 100 miles) I am suffering with any number of ailments, I tell myself, or announce to nobody in particular "I will never do this again!", it means that in fact, I will be doing it again the next year.



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