Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Best Loser

I can't believe I am about to admit that I feel inadequate for running only (ONLY!) 28 miles at a race this weekend.

Life is so freaking weird. This weekend, my husband and all his friends are heading to Colorado to run the Soft Rock.  It isn't a race. It's a guided tour of the Hardrock 100 course. Basically, they are breaking up the course into three days. A true running adventure in a spectacular setting. At lunch the other day, he mentioned that he wished I was coming. Then it dawned on me - there isn't a place for me at this race.

And it's true. I couldn't keep up. I have no business going, and it's better that I don't go. There's only one day that has a bail out option, and it's still a 20 mile day. 20 miles at least, with some very fast runners who don't have time to wait around for me. It's just a strange realization that I don't belong.

To be fair, a few months ago when Ryan was deciding whether or not to go, I just wanted to do my own thing. Have some space. Run a race I've done before and see if I can get better at it. I knew I would be traveling so much that I couldn't see myself unloading my dog on Grandma yet again, and not being around. My house was falling apart (still is) and I need to spend some time at home. So, I told Ryan to go by himself. And I really meant it.

Now that the weekend is here, I'm suddenly feeling inadequate. And, frankly, that is bullshit.

I don't know when my life evolved into this fantasy where every hobby I had needed to be some extreme endurance event, or some fringe society's idea of ridiculous fun, some extreme challenge that "normies" don't do. I can't even remember what I used to do for fun before I was into running ultras.

And that makes me angry.

But on top of all that, what really stresses me out is how ridiculously good I am at feeling sorry for myself.

I must be the best person in the world when it comes to pity parties. I'm not good enough, no one likes me, once again - proof that I am bad at everything I do, etc.

What will it take for me to be proud of anything I do? 28 miles? Most people never run a single marathon. I just did one! Last month! And you'll never hear me say anything good about it. A marathon! 26.2 miles in the rain the whole way! And before that? Trail running in Moab? Training in the mountains? Isn't there something to that? All I can focus on is how bad I did. How fat I looked in the photos. How slow I was. I could have dropped. I could have decided not to run it. But I still did it. The problem is, with an already low self esteem, setting myself up against the top 5% of runners doesn't seem to help my self image. It's not their fault. I'm the one looking for clues to prove I am different. Defective. Unusual. Etc. And, maybe I'm right to a degree. Maybe its hard to be part of a group where you are setting yourself up to be worse than everyone else in it.

I know that if I didn't run, I probably would never see my husband. But still.  I have got to find a way to feel better about myself. Running used to do it, and now running seems to have caused the opposite.

I went for a hike/run Monday to clear my head. I headed up BCC by myself and hiked to Catherine's Pass. I took my time, hung out and just relaxed. I ran on the way down. There were just a few fleeting moments where I felt good. It was nice to run. This was the run I did last year that really left me feeling happy about being a runner.  I haven't gotten it back. Maybe I will. I hope I will. But in the meantime, it sort of sucks to be "just a runner". Just a normal person, running at the back of the pack. Not making any amazing moves, or setting any PRs or FKTs.

In any case, part of me knows that I have got to get over this. But the other part of me feels like if I try hard enough, I too can be great. I can keep up with the fast runners. I can knock out a 50 miler in the mountains at altitude and still look fresh at the finish. I too could do Speedgoat on my first try and say, "Gee that was tough" and then throw back a beer and think about the next one.

I've been hoping that writing about this turns my attitude around. And it's sort of helping. I feel better than I did a few days ago. I'm not as tired. And hopefully I will get to a place where I don't see running a simple 50K as inadequate. If I don't, then I just doubt I could be happy doing much of anything. So, I'll just keep running. Slowly. And finishing races at the back of the pack. Or, timing out when I am too slow. Or, staying home instead of joining the next adventure, year after year.


  1. Lindsay, you are tough as nails. You run marathons and 50k's like they're no big deal. Don't forget, they are HUGE! You are letting all those 100mile runners around you fog your brain! Perspective!!!! You have to find a way to forget about those fast guys. Us slow girls have your back! You rock! I love running with you! I think what you need is a nice long trail run with the girls. July 6 or 7?

  2. I'm out of town that weekend - next weekend?

  3. Love this post! I, however, have never done an ultra! But I am always the back of the pack. Love to finish a race and have all the massage tables packed up and gone, raffle finished and food all gone and your husband places in his age group (without training!).