Growth through suffering
20 miles into the race I felt a gripping and ripping feeling though my left hamstring. The hot sun was beaming down over the open prairie and I still had another 30 miles to run.
Stop or Press on?
At 9 hours and 38 minutes I crossed the finish line and finished my first ever 50 Mile Ultra-marathon . I was not the same person that started that race. I was stronger, wiser, maybe even better looking. 😉
I was “gently” reminded of a few lessons that may help you on your journey through life.
6 Lessons I Revisited While Surviving A 50 Mile Run Through The Everglades.
1. Success lies on the other side of comfort.
To say I was uncomfortable was an understatement. My legs started cramping at mile 20, leaving me 30 miles to appreciate discomfort. I say this in jest but it was a blessing. Over those 30 miles I went through many physical and emotional peaks and valleys. When you are at you low it seems like it will never end. Then almost like a light switch the body finds a new source energy that propels you forward. Don’t be afraid of discomfort, of change, of pain because on the other side you come out stronger and more appreciative.
2. Surround yourself with people who make you better.
It’s mile 36 about 7 hours into the race and I have been “running” solo for about 2 hours in grassland prairies with only the percussive sounds of my steps and the hollow sound of my breath to keep me company. I thought I was hallucinating because I heard a new beat that complimented the staccato of my steps. It was another person. Not just any person but Krystle an experienced ultra-marathoner that had run several 50 milers and 100 mile races. Over the next few hours we walked, ran, and talked. She encouraged me and essentially helped me get to the finish-line.
Who are those people that will help get you to the finish line?
3. Stop and smell the roses.
Don’t miss the beauty of life’s journey because you are too focused on the destination. At the beginning of the race I all I could see was the floor because I was running too fast and needed to pay attention to my footing. When my legs cramped up, I had to walk. My gaze slowly came up and I was so engrossed in the beauty that surrounded me. I wish I had a camera so that I could share the beauty that surrounded me. All I have are the mental images I now take with me forever.
How often in life do we get so focused on the destination that we forget to enjoy and appreciate the journey. Your experiences lie in the struggle, in the environment, in the people we meet. I am so glad that I physically got to experience that first hand with this challenge.
4. Stopping may advance you more than going.
We sat in a dark school bus in the middle of the Everglades at 5:30am as Bob, the race director went over the logistics of the race. Then Bob shared his profound advice. “It will be hot today. At some point you will probably want to stop. Many of you will think about quitting. Don’t. If you are cramping up, if you feel bad, sit, wait, eat, drink, rest for half an hour. Many times you will feel better and will be able to continue. You have plenty of time to complete the race. Enjoy it, it is a beautiful course.”
So many times in life it will get hard, we will want to stop because it hurts. But if you want to truly advance, you may need to stop. Rest, recover so you can go the distance.
5. Be Prepared.
Knowing what to eat on race day is important. Know what the weather will be is important. But the most important preparation takes place months before as you put in the mile daily to callus your body to be able to handle the stress of the 50 miles. It is done a little at a time so your body has time to adapt and build itself up a little stronger than the day before.
Life’s preparation are determined by the daily habits you create.
Will your current habits serve you or bring you down? The choice is always yours.
“Patience is a virtue,” is a phrase you’ve undoubtedly heard but have you ever experienced it? This race allowed me to feel the repercussions of impatience. I ran too hard at the beginning and my legs cramped. It also allowed me to build my “patience muscles” as well. 9 hours 38 minutes is a long time to be out running. When times get tough patience will be your ally to overcome any obstacle. Like water flowing through the Grand Canyon. Sometimes the water flows fast, other times it is just a trickle but that consistency over time slowly wearing away the walls and the floor that produced this spectacular wonder of the world.
Do you have the patience to become that magnificent wonder to the world?
None of the above were new lessons, just an opportunity to live them, to experience them, and to practice them. It is nice to be reminded about them.
Godspeed on your journey.