August 12, 2010


Bernd Heinrich writes in Chasing the Antelope about a key question most distance runners ask themselves at least once in each race:

“This almost invariably occurs sometime around halfway through the race, and you ask yourself, Why am I doing this? Why am I here? Why? There is no answer. At that point, one needs faith—a combination of ignorance, deliberate blindness, hope, and optimism. It defies logic, yet makes us able to strive and to survive.”

I've been slow to write a race report about STORMY because I feel the experience went by so, so fast and I am only slowly digesting it. I believe a lot more happened than my first time running 50 miles. And one of the most surprising things was what didn't happen - at no point did I ask myself the above question, Why?

My mental focus during STORMY was so strong, or perhaps so relaxed, that I thought only about the here and now. Why never entered my mind, even in the final three hours which were challenging. I occupied my mind with anything and everything else - anything but the questions Why I was doing it and When I was going to be finished.

All I thought about was How right here and right now, one foot in front of another and keep moving, at different paces, up hill, down hill, on the flats. This time I didn't ask myself Why. Perhaps I didn't need to know, want to know. Perhaps the race itself was giving me the answer.

Perhaps it's because I know that as soon as that question Why pops up in my head, as it has in nearly all my races (whether running or triathlon), the finish suddenly seems that much further, almost out of reach, and the effort feels that much harder. I didn't want, nor could I afford, to make this debut 50-miler any harder than it was and as a consequence it never felt as tough as I had anticipated it might.

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