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Leggo My Ego: Knowing When to Call It a Day

Leggo My Ego: Knowing When to Call It a Day

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.

10. After 50 miles I absolutely can not do simple math or remember more than a handful of words to any given song.
9.   Being around other ultra runners can somehow convince you that running that far is completely normal.
8.   The further you run the less you care about who sees you squatting to pee.
7.   The further you run the harder it is to squat to pee.
6.   Odds are good at least one person has wiped their nose (or worse) with the same hand that just dipped into the little bowl of m&m’s on the aid station table.
5.   Chaffing sucks.
4.  Some of the best people in the world are trail-runners.
3.  It doesn’t matter to other people how fast or far you can run if you’re not nice.  You’re just an ass.
2.  I never felt closer to God than when I’m all alone on a trail for hours.
1. No race or achievement will ever compare to the joy of being piled on the couch snuggling with my kids.

And, honorable mention….Ego, kept in check, is a remarkable tool.

Posted in Running, Ultra MarathonComments (1)


The Dreaded Ds

I’ve been thinking about the Dreaded Ds lately: DNF (did not finish), DNS (did not start), and DFL (dead f@#king last).

I have a 50 Miler coming up that is freaking me out just a little bit (ok, a lot). I knew when I signed up for it that it would be a big STRETCH for me but I did it anyway. Sometimes, I feel so overwhelmed by it that I think maybe I shouldn’t run it. Maybe I’m not ready. Maybe I need another year of ultras under my belt before I tackle a 50 Miler with 12,000+ feet elevation gain. But no, I WILL show up on race day and I WILL give it my all. Whatever happens, happens. However, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about a DNF.

Luckily, I haven’t had a DNS for any of my races yet. But it could happen. It would be disappointing but injuries or family commitments may interfere and you have to go with what life throws at you. Sometimes, that means missing a race.

I’m not worried about being DFL either. It’s a possibility. I’ve been last before. It’s hard on the ego. Really hard. Especially when you think you’re all that and a bag of dark chocolate chips and then find out you’re not. But I can live with a DFL as long as I know I did my best.

The DNF though…I think it would depend on the reason. If it happened because of an injury…okay. If it happened because I gave up or quit because it was too hard…not okay. If it happened because I missed a course cut-off…I don’t know how I’d feel about that. THAT is what I’m most worried about.

I was curious to see what everyone else thought and I posted a poll on Twitter – Which of the Dreaded Ds do you fear the most: DNF, DNS, or DFL? 40 people responded and these are the results:

DNF – 18

DNS – 13

DLF – 6

The other 3 people responded with DNSU (did not sign up), DNS (did not sleep which could cause one of the 3 above), and MA (monkey attack – which is an issue at this marathon).

I was a little surprised that DNF & DNS were so close. It seems that those who’d had injuries in the past or missed races for whatever reason would rather DNF than not race at all. It seems like the longer the distance you try, the more you have to accept the possibility that DNFs happen or at least ultrarunners seemed more accepting of it. Those that chose DNF said it was because they didn’t want to quit or break a commitment to themselves. DFLs…they didn’t say but I’m sure you can guess why.

I suppose which one you dread most depends on your running experiences so far and what you have/haven’t dealt with in a race. Good to know. I guess the only “D” we should worry about is DNT (did not try). As long as we train and try to get to the start, try to do the best we can, and try to finish…that’s all that really matters.

But I still would rather not have a DNF!

What about you? Do you dread one of the 3 or have you accepted they are a part of racing?

Posted in RunningComments (2)

Extreme Marathon Runner Beth McCurdy

Run While Injured or Wait And Heal?

Beth McCurdy


I remember a time not so long ago when I didn’t get injured from running. Even though I have never been a super fast runner, I have been able to run extreme distances without any problems; I guess I thought that I was gifted in that respect.

But, here I am 41 years old, done countless races including a 100 mile road run in Key West on asphalt and concrete, and had no problems as a result except for a few (or so) lost toenails. But a few months ago, I bought the wrong shoes. Who would have thought that buying the wrong shoes would cause so many problems-but it did and now I’m struggling.

After I read “Born to Run”, I thought, wow, I would love to run effortlessly with little on my feet. So, I went for a run on the beach without any shoes and felt what it’s supposed to feel like. It felt good. But, could I run a marathon barefoot like Matt Jenkins on the pavement day after day? I’m not sure.

But the day that my injury took a turn for the worse was when I ran with barefoot Matt in the Tupelo Marathon. I really wished I was him on that day. Running barefeet and feeling the Earth with every step looked so appealing. But, instead I was running with a bad foot and feeling pain with every step. I could have DNF’d the marathon and in fact, should have. It’s not like I really cared about the race or my time. But, something kept me running. I don’t know what it was but something kept me running.

Was it the shoes, my stubborness that wouldn’t let me slow down, or my age that caused this injury? Or is 5 years too long to go without an injury. Was I due? These are all questions that I want answered. But regardless, the reality is that I have a problem that is keeping me from doing what I love to do.

For now, I can’t run the way I used to run. My foot injury is a distraction from what I love. Unless you are a runner or athlete, you cannot truly understand how devasting this can be to a person.

My passion is running outside short and long distances. Right now, I’m lucky if I can run short. Meanwhile, I need to figure out what the lesson is that I am supposed to be learning as a result of this injury. Maybe I am a fool for thinking that I am indestructable. Maybe I care too much about running. Maybe I need to think about other things in my life right now besides when I’m going to run my next ultra. Maybe I need to be grateful that even with this nagging injury, I am still a runner and am blessed to be able to do what I love.

Finishing Tupelo on my bad wheel

Posted in Injuries, Marathon, RunningComments (3)

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