Honestly, it really started at the end of 2017. There was a lot of hype after Marji Gesick. When you're the only one to finish a 100 mile running race, there are a lot of pictures of you that end up on Facebook. At first, this is fun. Who doesn't like a little attention? But, as we all know, the world of social media can quickly turn negative, especially if you're a sensitive person. Those pictures had comments, and while there weren't any that directly cut me down, there was an underlying message from some of the men, which was basically, "I'm gonna go out there and easily win a buckle," which since I missed the buckle time, felt a little bit (ok, a lot) like, "If that little girl can finish that race, surely I can do it much faster. It must be easy." When I guy I didn't know (who's Facebook page shows a lot of pics of him riding a bike and none of him running) messaged me, telling me he was going to run next year and win a buckle and wanted tips, it definitely stung a little. Or a lot. Suddenly it seemed like a whole lotta biker dudes thought they could do this race easily. So of course, I started to think that perhaps my performance sucked. Or I just sucked.
And you know what happens when you think you suck? You try to prove you don't. So, as much as I wanted to believe I was doing all that 2018 racing to conquer some fear, in hindsight, I was racing to prove I wasn't just some tiny woman who can't do much. Starting Jiu Jitsu not long after only accentuated the problem, since suddenly my size was an issue, every day. Once you know Jiu Jitsu, it can help you defend yourself against someone bigger who doesn't know it, but when you're learning and you're the smallest one there and everyone else knows more than you, you get humbled. Every. Single. Day.
I get it, humility can be a great thing. Unfortunately in this case, it just added to my need to prove myself, and racing from this place is dangerous. Sure, I had a few good races, like HAMR and Night Owl, but if I'm truly honest with myself, by Nov. I was exhausted from all the racing and training like a woman with something to prove.
Of course, I couldn't see this clearly at the time so I went to the Back 40 race in Dec. with a chip on my shoulder that was starting to feel like a boulder since I'd been carrying it around for over a year. In theory, this race should've been perfect for me. 40 mile trail run Saturday, 40 miles of mountain biking Sunday. With that boulder on my shoulder, it was of course a different story.
Long story short, I was anxious from the start. Since we started with a mass of 20 mile runners, the trail was pretty crowded. I did my best to find my own rhythm and enjoy some solitude, but I found myself more often than not running with guys so close to my heels one of them actually stepped on my shoe. I should've been able to let this go. Instead it just aggravated me. By the time we finally hit this bridge and had a very short reprieve from the tight singletrack, all I could think about was that I hoped this dude would pass me so I could stop to pee without him seeing my butt. He didn't. Apparently I'm a good pacer.
|Photo: adVANture photography|
Of course, as you probably all know, stories like this never end well. When I jumped up and kept running, there was pain in my pubic bone. I told myself it was just a bruise, but five or six miles later, there was no denying that my hip had taken a beating. With every step, it felt like my groin was going to pull off the bone. I hobbled the last few miles to complete one lap of 20, but I knew there was no way I could tough it out for 20 more.
So, what do I do now that I tossed that boulder away? Get back to what's true to me- racing for the challenge and not to prove anything. My favorite part of racing has always been the process-that intense focus you need to get the training done, to get to the start line as ready as you can, and to race with a greater purpose than just your own accomplishment on race day. My goal for this year is, in the words of David R. Hawkins in his book Power vs. Force, "to honor the endeavor, not the personal accomplishment, which is only the occasion and expression of something greater, universal and innate in the human heart."