What happens between the making of a decision and seeing it come to fruition? One helluva a journey!
It started because I became captivated by race medals. After signing up for a couple Ragnar races just to earn the coveted “double medal”, I wanted more. Then I heard about this thing called the Dopey Challenge at Disney World… 7 medals in 4 days! Sign me up! (Curious about what it is… find out here.)
To up the ante, I’ll fly to Disneyland the following weekend for another race challenge. A total of 67.9 miles in 11 days between 6 events.
It started off innocently enough. I signed up, mapped out a training program and the rest is becoming [my] history.
In preparation for the BIG kahuna, I thought a Ragnar Ultra was a good idea. It was Napa Valley after all, how bad could it be?! (Don’t know what a Ragnar is… check it out here.)
There were lots of ups and downs during the race. Sea level was great but the rolling hills were harder then I expected. My legs felt like tight rubber bands ready to snap. I swear the step in to and out of the van kept getting bigger and bigger. Running in the dark with the fog rising off the ground felt like a scene in a horror movie. And that last leg of 19.2 miles tested my mental and physical ability to the max.
My biggest source of frustration though – food! I can’t have anything in my belly when I run or my stomach cramps. I have yet to figure out a way around this obstacle. And when you’re running 19 or more miles at one time, no-food isn’t an option. In the weeks leading up to the event I tried different food strategies. I figured out a few things that worked best. And, still, what did I do?! Ate things I rarely eat at home, let alone something I’d consume before a run.
I completely blew apart my eating strategies! Donuts and burgers; bagels with peanut butter and turkey sandwiches; candy bars and soda pops. Some I knew were a bad idea… soda right before running and a candy bar during the run?! Peanut butter and a bagel seemed like a good idea… some magazines recommend it. Such a bad decision! My stomach was a mess during every single leg! (I didn’t attempt the candy bars and soda pops!)
I’m in awe of the eating habits a few teammates have and their ability to run so fast! I can’t do it.
You know your body best. Never change your game plan the day of the race! You better believe I’ll be following this advice for the Dopey! I’m not looking to break any records, I would like to feel good during and about the race.
After Ragnar Napa, my rubber band legs continued. My knees ached and I questioned my ability to complete the Dopey. I’m confident my legs experienced PTSD… screaming at me, PLEASE don’t make it me do it again! And yet, I had spent the money and made the commitment. I had to find a solution.
Years ago I couldn’t jog a mile. I was overweight and out of shape. Fast forward and I’m happy to report that neither of those are my challenges right now. Today, I’m worried about plantar faciitis, runners knee and muscle recovery. My toolbox includes a running coach, chiropractor, and a massage therapist. The gym, a golf ball, a foam roller and ice. Topical anti-inflammatories, food, water and a variety supplements. I’m sure I’m missing a few but you get the idea. The key is to be open-minded to WHAT will help you and work to understand HOW it will help you. Never give in to the mentality that “that’s just the way it is”. That’s a failure mindset and you won’t achieve anything that way.
Realize that no matter where you are in your journey, there will always be challenges. You’ve never quite arrived and you’re always taking a step or two back before moving forward. That’s OK.
If I’m being honest, I still don’t want to run again yet. Starting January 16th, I look forward to a more manageable health and fitness program. Until then, this is where perseverance pays off. A couple leg days back in the gym and I’m already experiencing less PTSD. Full recovery is on the horizon.
I set this goal so long ago that its lost some of it’s excitement.
I spent the final 6 miles of my 19 mile leg in Ragnar Napa running 1 minute, then walking 1 minute. Convincing myself each minute I walked that I could do one more one minute run. Run, walk, repeat. Six miles with a focus of one minute at a time. It was excruciating and yet I finished. But that was only 19 miles, the final race of the Dopey is a full marathon – 26.2 miles! Another 7-ish miles to go! Stay tuned ’cause I still don’t know how it’s all going to play out.
Not only did I doubt my ability to complete the challenge, I lost the desire to do it for a moment. My person, my support and my travel partner wasn’t interested in being there. I could no longer count on someone picking me up when I needed or celebrate when it was over. Sails deflated.
While I’m still working out some of the details, deep down I know that it’ll be amazing. It’s also reminded me that the power to achieve great things lies within. That the biggest road block is often the person in the mirror. This is my goal to achieve and I’m strong enough to do it.
Along the journey, surround yourself with those who will support you. Those who will lift you up when you’re not up to the task. The internal fulfillment of a goal is measured by the journey you took to get there.
Seriously though, I might need someone to carry me back to the hotel room… who wants to go to California? 🙂