Is it possible to change my registration from 100K to 50K? If so, I'd like to do that...
I read that last line of my email over and over. Maybe I can still do this. Maybe I should just hold out and try to get back on track. The race was still over a month out. maybe I can still do this...
No, getting back on track was not an option. Since pinching a nerve in my back and missing 6 weeks of training, my longest run had only been 16 miles. 16 slow, miserable, painful miles. Getting back on track meant a 30 miler that Saturday. Cognitively, I knew it was impossible. And even if it were possible, covering that sort of distance in my unrehabilitated state would likely cause greater injury forcing me to drop out of the race altogether.
Yes, this was the right choice. But still I was struggling to hit the send button. Every time I read that line, I felt like it translated to, "I'm a big loser who can't finish what I started." I hit send and took a deep breath. I felt like I was letting myself, my family and everyone else who has supported me this past year, down. I felt like a failure and even said aloud to myself, "It's official. Now I'm just running a 50k."
It was more than a week after hitting send that it hit me. Just a 50k? JUST??? You're going to attempt running more than 31 miles on the toughest race course in Ohio less than 2 months after you couldn't walk 31 feet without needing to rest. Who do you think you are?!?! The very fact that you are running competently again is a miracle! Let alone the fact that you are running any sort of distance! You have forgotten who gave you this gift! It's time to face reality! If you finish that 50k it will be nothing short of an act of God!
It was true. I had lost sight of why I run. I had taken for granted the fact that running is a gift. That not everyone is blessed with the ability to relentlessly move forward, swiftly, over rough terrain for distances in excess of 20 and 30 miles. I had become arrogant and maybe this injury was God's way of saying, "Son, you need to reevaluate."
I've always said that every runner runs for their own reason and their goals should reflect the reason that they run. There is no point in comparing yourself to other runners since no two people run for the exact same reason. But in a way, I had begun comparing myself to myself. I had to beat my old distance, I had to do something far more epic than what I had done before. Running because I love the woods, the quiet, the beauty of it all wasn't enough anymore. It had somehow been overshadowed by this arbitrary measurement of distance. And letting myself be depressed because I was "only" going to run 50k was complete foolishness!
God willing, on September 28th I will spend most of the day in a national park, traversing 31+ miles of beautiful and brutal trails. It will be painful, and awful, and perfect. And I will finish this race with a smile because I have remembered the real reason I run. And I will honor the gift giver with every step. This race, quite possibly will be my most epic one yet!