I Went into the Woods
Often we measure the path to greatness in successes and failures. We rejoice in the things we have accomplished and bury the things we have failed at. Can we succeed in failing? Is it possible to not reach the finish line and yet rejoice? We enter races with an eye on the finish but I am learning it’s not always the finish line that’s important. After spending the weekend around two very different races, it allowed me a chance to think about racing, what motivates us and what it means to finish or not finish. Tonight’s post is not about the Death Race; a race report will come later.Tonight it’s about what I learned on the trail and at the barn.
Last week I announced I would race the Peak Races Snowshoe Marathon. It was an ambitious goal, one for which I had not trained and really wasn’t prepared. I thought my will to do it would win over. Also my training partner said I better to be able to do a snowshoe marathon right now if I wanted to do a 50 miler and it resinated in me. I was given special permission to do my laps on Friday while the 100 milers raced. My number one reason for being there was to help Jason complete the race, in the process I wanted to get in a marathon to prove I could.
I set off after the 100 milers did 1 lap. I had no clue what I was in for. I finished the first lap in just under two hours. During that lap I caught up with Michelle Roy and those moments on the trail with her were some of my favorite from the weekend. Michelle is an incredible woman. She has battled cancer, she is a teacher, she goes after life consistently takes on new challenges. She is an ultra runner and a self proclaimed dork. She loves running and it shows in her blogging and more importantly in her conversations. Her love for running is deep and something to admire. She is in the Summer Death Race this year and has opted for the 12-mile swim; BTW she is learning to swim just now in her 40’s. The thing is she will finish that swim. I cherished that time and continue to look up to her. I completed my first lap with her feeling really good.
I took a short break to talk briefly with some Death Racers who were showing up for the Winter Death Race then headed back on the trail. Michelle was ahead of me, I caught up and passed her somewhere on the way up. Most of it was I alone on the trail with my thoughts. I pushed this lap a bit more finishing in about 1:45.
As I was headed down the mountain on that second lap, I felt my hips screaming. This was not good! I wasn’t supposed to have these feelings until the 3rd or even last lap. As I crossed the bridge back to Amee Farm I saw Jason. I knew he needed nutrition and I knew I was just about done, maybe had another lap in me but wanted to save it if Jason needed a pacer in the middle of the night.
This was the end of my race and I basically knew it as I took my snowshoes off. I completed a half marathon in 4:15 when you add in my pit time. I was on the trail for just under four hours. I would spend the next two days helping the snowshoers and the Death Race.
So today how to I feel about failing to reach my desired goal? Honestly, I feel good. Had I continued to push and race I most likely would not have been able to ski and work all day on Saturday. I for once didn’t let my drive to finish something but something like my job in jeopardy. So today instead I am not telling people I didn’t do a snowshoe marathon, it’s that I did do a half marathon on snowshoes instead.
This might not sound as large or exciting as some of the other achievements I have done in the past but for me it’s so much further than I was last year at this time. I remember looking at the race last year saying a 10K I can’t do that distance, and at that time I hadn’t. Now I can comfortably double that distance, and well that’s pretty cool. So instead of looking at this weekend as a failure, it’s a success. I had never been on snowshoes that long or gone that distance.
So as a friend told me, it’s time to embrace the things we do instead of beat ourselves up for the things we can’t do. I had a great time on the trails and the time I spent alone and with Michelle are priceless, and unique moments in time. They can never be replicated or reproduced in a lab they are mine and mine alone. Finally, there is always next year to give it a go again.
Thanks to Andy Weinberg for letting me get out there and push myself. Thank you to Matt Baatz for creating an incredible course, truly using all the terrain. Thank you to Jason Jaksetic getting me out on the trails those early mornings. Thank you to Forest Call for reminding me that the things I do accomplish matter. Special thanks to Michelle Roy for “gabbing” with me on the trail and forgetting what we were doing.