Wednesday, November 14, 2012


This past weekend Dave, Holden and I ran an Aid Station for an Ultra Trail Run. We were out in the woods from 7:00 am Saturday morning until 1:00 Sunday afternoon. Our job was to provide food and hydration to the runners doing 25, 75 and 100 miles over the course of 32 hours.
This is what a bunch of 100 mile ultra-runners look like at the start of a race. Many of them did not look that different afterwards. Freaks.

I have to say that the racers with almost no exception, were very friendly, appreciative, and kind to all of us. Even when they were exhausted and in incredible pain. The front runners weren't chatty per se, but even they were courteous. 

Holden went to bed quite early due to being outside all day and it getting dark early. Dave started nodding off around midnight so I sent him to the tent. I found it so sweet that these runners who had been out there since 7:00 AM were so concerned about ME staying up all night and afraid I was out there alone. The 1:00AM to 4:00AM hours were a little lonely, but thanks to Channing Tatum, I managed. (Magic Mike and 21 Jump Street on the tablet FTW)

Modern camping. Movies on the tablet, Facebooking on the iPhone.

It was a very interesting experience and one all of us are glad we got to be a part of. I walked away with two important realizations:
 1. It is possible for a modern, nine year old boy to spend a weekend in the woods with only his dog, a book, two small toys and actually have fun, occupy himself and never once complain that he was bored.
Here he is using a vine as a jump rope.

2. OK, not so much a new revelation but rather a really important reinforcement of a previously held belief. Goals, desires, capabilities, just life in general is just so freakin' relative. Many posts back I ranted about some people in our lives calling us crazy for doing things like the Mud Runs, Adventure Races, etc. Basically, activities that carry a certain level of, for lack of a better word, pain with the pleasure. At the time I could not wrap my mind around why they couldn't wrap their mind around what I was doing.

I get it now.

I'm going to be honest. Going into the weekend I kind of expected to walk away with a little part of me wanting to a do a 50 miler or more one day. After spending the weekend seeing what the runners go through, listening to them, talking to their spouses......

There is a pleasure to pain ratio to everything we choose to do. Sure, there are parts of every Adventure Race that get a little painful and I think to myself, "Wait! I'm choosing to do this?" But they are small and fleeting. The fun of the rest of the race, let alone the feelings of accomplishment afterwards, are more than worth the uncomfortable bits.

Hell, Crossfit regularly kicks my tubby ass, yet... how I feel afterwards both mentally and physically are totally worth it. But ultrarunning? Not worth it. To me. As the race went on I had a really difficult time trying to understand how any of them could find it worth the pain either. But then it hit me that I was being like my friends who don't "get" the ARs and Mud Runs. To them, it's not worth it.

And that's ok. It's all relative. Relative to this particular point in the time/space continuum. Doing an ultra-run or a six, or even 12 hour AR, isn't worth the discomfort to me now. But neither was making the time to pack lunches and workout two years ago. Because what might not seem worth the pain or annoyance right now, might be worth it to you someday. I know lots of people who claim that they want to lose weight and/or get in shape. But when I mention things like Crossfit or using a Couch to 5K program, or pre-planning meals, they scoff. The discomfort/annoyance is still not worth the pay-off to them. Honestly? I hope someday it will be before the actual pain of not taking care of themselves sets in. But we're all on our own time-line, and those of us on the journey have no right to judge those who haven't started on their own yet. Because for a lot of us, on a different point on the time-line, we were them.

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