I did not succeed.
After 82 miles and 24 hours on trail, in absolute agony, I collapsed in a heap of blood and tears. For the first time in my ultra running life, I had tapped out of a race. I am no machine. Just a man. A fellow human being. I get hurt too. My brain tells me to quit sometimes. My body does quit sometimes. Not a machine. News to me and quite humbling to say the least.
So many people reached out to show me love afterwords. Almost more people than when I finish races. You know who you are and I will never forget your kindness in my very dark time.
I am still very much emotionally drained from this experience but wanted to share what I learned.
Failure can be a good thing. Learning and growing with this experience will ultimately make me a better person. I am certain of it now.
I took some time away from my watch after this race with good reason. I learned this from leading a group of kids on a 2km race on the Island just a week after my race. 7-10 year olds don’t have GPS watches. They don’t care about their splits. They aren’t in it for the prizes. They aren’t trying to get to UTMB. They run because they love to run. This was a monster wakeup call for someone who had his spark significantly dimmed after the letdown in Utah. So all consumed am I always with goals and dreams that I must remember to remain in the present moment. Enjoy this ride of life while it’s happening.
During this race I had several moments that brought me to tears. Most of them being scenic and ultimately one of them due to a combination of injury & disappointment.
When the sun came up around mile 15 there was a long stretch of farmland where I saw a perfect white tail deer bounding through the field a hundred yards away. It caught me off guard when the beauty of that moment hit. At mile 25, the first time coming through Thunder Mountain, the spire like rock formations so perfectly aligned in this treasure of a national park made it feel like I was running on a different planet. I was struck with how lucky I was at the moment to be alive and experiencing this on my own two feet and not flipping through some picture book from a souvenir shop. At mile 60, heading into the darkness the Utah full moon crept perfectly over top of the hill I was set to start ascending. A more pristine photograph for a postcard could never have been staged. I almost didn’t need a headlamp as the moon guided me up that hill. Finally, on my second pass of Thunder Mountain, the moon had produced dissonant haunting shadows over those once orange, Mars like spires. I again stopped to breathe it all in.
On the Thunder decent was when I knew I could no longer continue. I t was not a spur of the moment decision at aid station 82. I had almost 2 hours of arguing with myself from 2 till 4am. "Yes you are quitting. No keep going. Quit. No. Yes. No. Keep going. No. You are injured, its ok to stop, No…Yes”
This race was supposed to be the clinching points I needed to get back into the UTMB lotto to run the 100 miler in France 2020. Unceremoniously about three weeks before race day, the point system all changed through ITRA and UTMB. Apparently I had already punched my lottery ticket after my 100 mile finish in Texas in February. I was in? Weird.
Very anti climactic. Why was I even running this race now?
I keep asking myself.....
If I wasn’t already in the lottery would you have dragged yourself another 18 miles to the finish line? I can’t frame that thought process to accurately answer as it was not the case. I was in the lotto. I was also in more pain than I have ever been in my running career. Alli tried valiantly to get me to continue, even offering to get her running gear on and pace me the final 18 miles with no plan of how we would get back to our car. But she had never seen that look on may face when rolling into mile 82 aid station.
I was done.
On this trip I was able to run 3 of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life and got to do it all with my best friend. I do not regret one second of it. From Death Valley, to Red Rocks, and the daunting Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. Life is always more beautiful with you.
This weekend I get to return the favour. Pacer duties for this guy in the U.P. as she attempts to take step 1 on her ultra journey with a 50k. I am so proud to get a chance to be "present” for this moment in her life.
Oh ya Bryce Canyon?
See you next year. We have unfinished business with you.
“It’s not how hard you fall, it’s how fast you get back up"