I like hard scenic challenges. A lot of my running is geared towards that. The majority of the time I'm okay with having the gumption to go for something, with not playing it safe, with not always completing races, and with having to make difficult choices (like being smart and DNFing when you fear passing out on the trail and the nearest aid station has no ability to radio for help).
And I feel like all I've done this year is go for the things that are so far from guaranteed, the things that are a big challenge (with often a big reward), the things where the chance of success is small. I don't regret my racing or my choices. But I'm tired. I'm tired of things being so hard.
Prelude: I don't perform well in heat, warm weather with altitude, or full sun. I can be fully hydrated, tracking my urination, and I've learned that my core body temp just goes up quickly when I get warm. Quickly. And then it's an epic battle to keep heat exhaustion at bay when you're already susceptible.
My running year (2014) so far has been
- Bandera 50K which was a warm day that was hard on me but a new big course PR too,
- Rocky Raccoon 100 miler as my first 100 mile attempt, with a DNF at mile 80 after 30 miles of blisters
- Atoka A-OK 25K trail race, which had 19 degree temperatures and snow flurries and recovering dead legs from Rocky
- Gorge Waterfalls 100K, where 50% of the field including me DNFed this difficult course with tight time cutoffs
- Possum Kingdom 55K, where it got HOT and ended with my longest sub-50 mile race finish ever of over 11 hours
- Ouachita 50K, that unexpectedly included bouldering up rocks to the summit of Pinnacle Mountain and was another HOT day
- Grand Canyon 100, where I DNFed at mile 38 after heat that was much worse than the usual temperatures that time of year left me lightheaded and exhausted from what felt like an all day battle. At the end of it all, 45% of the field DNFed the 100 miler. I was not alone.
And my difficulties do not mean I haven't been working hard. Look at those races above! I'm not sitting around eating bonbons every week. My miles for the first 5 months of the year are higher than this point last year. And last year was my biggest running year to date.
I know deep down I'm not a weak runner. I know I put in time. I know I keep major injury at bay. I know that I'm a smart runner. But I waver at times in my confidence, and DNFs and hard race days make me feel weak and wimpy and like I'd rather be stupid and play the "death before DNF" game.
I've been here before. Last year. After a strong Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon as a training run two weeks before the difficult Bighorn 50K with a proud finish in that event, I felt like this when I DNFed Tahoe Rim Trail 50 Mile from heat exhaustion a month later. My reset button was the fun, low stress, and (RELATIVELY) easy E.T. Full Moon 51K race a few weeks later.
I think I need to hit the reset button again.
I've seen amazing things, taken in beautiful scenery, and had grand adventures. But I'm tired now. I am lost and craving a race where I can have a high chance of success and can take it easy. Running is fun because it's a challenge but running is also fun when you are just out there reveling in being active and moving through the world. Is it wrong to want that too? Why is it so hard for me to balance these things? I'm so often 100% or 0% on something - an intensity I'm known for. You know whether I'm interested or not. I'm rarely so-so on anything.
Time to reset.