Leggo My Ego
It’s doubtful that many of you would consider running 75 miles in less than a day a failure. And, I’m not sure I consider it one myself. But, as I sit here licking the wounds of not finishing this weekend’s 100 mile ultra, I can’t help but think about one word. Ego. You see, I was thrilled to be included with some running legends in an article recently in the Commercial Appeal that talked about 100 mile ultra marathons and the growth of the sport. As always, there was one opinionated commenter who made it clear that anyone who would undertake such a ridiculously long endeavor was driven solely by ego. I’ll admit it has stuck with me. I’m not someone who considers myself to be exceptionally egotistical. But, I thought about it during the Mark Twain 100, my third ‘hundred miler’ in a little over a year. I frankly decided that ego isn’t such a bad thing. I was running well and felt great. I was 30-something miles into the race and it was raining steadily. I love running. I love running in the rain. I love running all day and night. My ego and I were having fun.
Jump forward a few hours and 30 or so miles. It was still raining. It was getting dark. The rocks were rockier. The roots were rootier. The dirt was mud. It was pitch dark. I was completely alone. My clothes were wet. My ego and I were battling it out. My body and my mind were having an old fashioned, ego-driven duel. My ankles had turned so many times on loose rocks I lost count. I was chaffed in all the wrong places. I was puking. So, I finished the 3rd lap for a total of 75 miles in a little over 18 hours. I was toast. Ego, ego, where art thou?
Fact is, I made the smart decision. My rational side told my egotistical side to sit this one out. And, as much as it wasn’t officially a check in the “Win” category, in some ways it was. I believe that on good days and bad days there’s something to be learned that you can take with you for the next time. Bruised ego and all, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 things I’ve learned so far running ultras. I look forward to adding to the list for many years to come.
And, honorable mention….Ego, kept in check, is a remarkable tool.