Recently I was listening to the October 6th episode of Trail Runner Nation podcast, Start with WHY and they were discussing the "why" you race ultramarathons. Their assertion was that when you get deep into the race and your mind starts screaming at you to stop, you need to have a very compelling reason not to, otherwise, it would be pretty easy to convince yourself to stop. It was one of those moments of clarity. I remember my first Ironman finish at Lake Placid and how it felt. To be honest, it was a bit of a letdown. I am not sure what I expected from that moment, however, I remember coming through the finish line and saying to myself "is that it?". One of the main points of the podcast is that it is critical to have a personal "why" you are doing this because as the hours go on and your body starts to scream at you to stop, you need a reason to put those thoughts aside. You need something to shut out those thoughts and tell them go away.
So I started thinking about my why. Why am I doing this? I started thinking about one specific reason and actually came up with many. In no particular order, here is my list:
- As it says on the front page, I run because Matt can't.
- I love to run.
- To stay in shape and be healthy (as healthy as it can be to run Ultras)
- Escape from the day.
- To change my mood.
- Set a good example for my kids.
- I would like Chantel to be proud of what I do.
- Get out of my comfort zone.
- See what I am capable of.
Over the coming weeks, I will dig deeper into each of these and likely add more. For now, I will tackle the #1 reason as it really is the easiest.
I run because my cousin Matt simply can't run anymore. The past few weeks I have been thinking about why his death affected me so deeply considering I didn't really know him as an adult. Besides seeing his occasional posts on Facebook and hearing stories through other people, I can't say I really knew Matt very well. So I believe this is one of the reasons why I am feeling so compelled to do something he loved so deeply. I have a need to connect to him in some way so I can feel that link between him and I and give me the sense of knowing my cousin who I never got to know.
When I participated in ultra triathlons (Ironman distances), I found it was always easy to convince myself to stop when it started to hurt. That's because I never really had a why aside from "well you signed up for this stupid race and paid your money so you may as well finish it", however, I never really had a compelling reason to keep going. This is also likely why I never felt that finishing one was that big of a deal. It didn't fulfill anything deep inside me.
I know the thought of Matt and his love of running will carry me through those dark times in the races where my mind is telling me to stop. In fact, I almost feel like it will be too easy to keep going. I will keep running because Matt can't.