Since October 2013 my running/training/racing schedule has been a whirlwind. Since the day I laced up and got back on the pavement after a tibial stress fracture, I have run 4 5Ks, 5 10Ks, 2 10 milers, 5 half marathons, 1 30K, 6 full marathons, and my first 50K. It has been a busy 18 months to say the least, with a lot of personal and professional changes going on behind the scenes as well. I have pushed very hard for a lot of reasons, and beyond a day or two I haven't taken any time to appreciate how far I've come, how hard I've worked, or much of anything that has gone on around me. Nothing has felt good enough, so I've just kept pushing. PR'd? Not fast enough, new training plan. New diet. Lose weight, get faster. BQ'd? Hire a coach, push harder. Physically tired, mentally tired, keep going, have to get better. Day in and day out, wearing myself down, working through aches and pains, pushing through mental barriers in search of something, not really knowing what it was. Yesterday I found out what it was.
I won't get in to a ton of details, but heading into my first 50K this past weekend at the Badwater Cape Fear 50K on Bald Head Island, NC I have to admit I was less then excited. First ultra race (had trained past the distance but never raced), unknown location, beach running, mentally and physically feeling tired, I didn't feel like I was ready. Even the night before while trying to fall asleep, the knot of nervousness in my stomach was so big and so hard I was actually dreading the morning. Once the race started I began to settle down, and the road miles went by quickly and as planned (I did get lost, but that's another story). As I began running on the beach, which was a struggle, I experienced something I had never felt during a race: I was alone. But it was what I needed. Miles of beach running slowly went by, and with about 3 miles left, heading towards the finish line all alone, I was in the lead and had a chance to win the race. Physically I kept moving, but mentally I stopped right there. That was the moment I had been searching for.
It wasn't winning that I needed, but those last few miles heading towards the finish line I let myself do something I haven't done since I can't remember when. I let myself appreciate what was happening. I was running on a beautiful island, I had come to the race with and met some awesome people, I had pushed myself harder and further then I thought possible. My support group isn't huge, but it is full of some amazing people who believe in me. I have some awesome friends who believe more in me then I have ever been able to believe in myself. I have only worked with my coach for 4-5 months now, and for as hard as he has pushed me he truly had me ready to run yesterday. For as difficult as things have been, I have two beautiful children who remind me everyday why I have worked to better myself. For as difficult as I have made things, I have a beautiful girlfriend (who also won the 50K) that I couldn't be happier for, more proud of, and luckier to have in my life. Everything I have lost, everything I have failed at, everything I have overcome, everything that is changing, I am literally right where I want to be.
Things are still moving and changing around me, but I finally stopped to appreciate where I am. I am happy. I am excited for the future. I am excited for what I have been able to do in the last 18 months. I am excited for what the rest of 2015 has in store. Running has done lot for me in the last 3 years and helped me realize quite a bit about myself, about life, and about the changes that have gone on around me and inside of me.
I usually end my blogs with the tag line "There Is No Finish Line". In some ways that is still true, but life does have finish lines at certain points. Sometimes you get to them and you've won, and what you've won is a lot more then just a race.