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Embrace the Suck. Or not.

by Carilyn on December 17, 2012

Short Version (for those of you who are only reading this blog because you are putting off sending out your Christmas cards)

It poured ALL day. I ran 50+ miles. I complained. I chafed. I quit.

Now go send out your cards!

Long Version

As most of you know, a few years back, I took an extended break after Hubz’s accident (I warned you this was the loooooooong version). When I finally decided to race again, I was scared and a basket case (don’t say it – I know what you’re thinking). But, after a few good races, some wins, and getting back on the US Team last year, I felt like I had wrestled my mental gremlins to the ground, removed their spleens, and could move on.

This year started out well. I did Born to Run 100k, got 2nd, and felt good about it because it was a “trail-ish” race. But, it left my feet messed up, and I had to drop from WS100 – an 8 year dream. All was fine, though. Worlds would be my big race. I was ready. I trained. I slept in my uniform. I ate Wheaties.

And then I fell and my race was over, just like that. And when I got home, the gremlins had healed from their spleenectomies and were back in residence in my head.

No matter, I told myself, I will run Javelina 100 and HAVE FUN. But, I forgot the fact that 100 milers are never fun. Things happen. You feel bad. You hate it a lot of the time. I quit at mile 78.

But still no matter. My redemption race was just around the corner – Desert Solstice 24 Hour. But I wasn’t excited. Something was wrong with my brain. I still loved to run, but had gotten back to that place where I hated to race. I hated the pain, and the suffering, and the sheer amount of time I had to be on the course. And I hated that I hated it. I wanted to go back to loving it – loving the challenge, loving the push.

So, when it rained ALL day, the gremlins were doing cheers in my brain – “S. U. C. K. What’s that spell? SUCK! This sucks!” And eventually I agreed with them. When I realized I wasn’t going to beat my PR from last year, so I wouldn’t improve my standing on the Team qualifier roster, I decided I’d had enough. Now, if I hadn’t DNF’d the 2 prior races, this wouldn’t really bother me. Sixty percent of the runners in this race ended up quitting because it was just so miserable. But, this makes 3 races in a row for me. The gremlins are winning.

Is it just that I need a new and different type of challenge? Another break? A lobotomy?

I really have no idea at this point. But I’m going to look up brain surgeons when I’m done with this post.

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Now, for the good news.

Despite the horrendous conditions, 5 tough-as-nails people DID run for the full 24 Hours, and smoked it!

My buddies, Debbie Horn and Joe Fejes were simply phenomenal out there! Debbie ran 131+ (putting her back on the Team qualifying list), and Joe won the event with 157+ (an almost 10 mile PR!).

Nick Coury (139+) and Jennifer Aradi (128+) both had PRs and were so inspirational to watch. They are amazing runners, and it was so much fun to share the course with them both.

Charlotte Vasarhelyi ran 115+ and re-qualified for the Canadian National Team. She was so steady all night – it didn’t even look like she noticed the rain. I think I need a little mental toughness training from her.

In the 100 mile race, 4 people finished, including the remarkable Pam Smith, who ran a 15:01. No, that is not a typo. She is a fantastic runner, placing 5th IN THE WORLD in the 100k this year. And she never even looked like she was working that hard – amazing!

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As I said on Friday, no matter how this race ended up, I knew it would be fun to see all my friends, and to watch these phenomenal athletes race. Watching Jon Olsen, Ian Sharman and Michael Arnstein blaze around the track was a once-in-a-lifetime event for me. In a point to point race, I would never get to see them because they would have left me 3 strides in. Here, they were captive, so a slow seal like me got a front row seat.

And getting to chat with Phil McCarthy, Connie Gardener and Mike Henze was just plain fun. It is people like them that keep me in the sport.

So, even if I get the lobotomy, I will make sure I have the doc leave the part of my brain intact that lets me appreciate all the wonderful people I’ve come to know through this sport and their amazing abilities.

Hmmm…maybe I should look into competitive badmitton .

Happy Running!



{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

SteveQ December 17, 2012 at 9:08 am

Sometimes it just goes that way. I always find that there are three times I want to quit and sometimes all 3 are between 70 and 85 miles. I like running in the rain, though I hate chafing about as much as is humanly possible.

Pam ran 9 minute miles for 100 miles?! Can’t wait to read her version of the race!

Carilyn December 17, 2012 at 9:36 am

Pam was amazing! That girl can move! Dang!

Kirstin C (@ultrarunnergirl) December 17, 2012 at 10:17 am

I basically didn’t race this year unless you count Bull Run Run 50 Miler, I had a pretty good race there despite being under-trained, but the lack of training resulted in tendonitis. That took my next 2 races (including my A race) out of the equation. I healed up fairly quickly, but never really got back to running. I just wasn’t feeling it. Sometimes there’s no answer on how to get your mojo back, but it will come. One day you’ll be at a race, wishing you were running it instead of volunteering/cheering …

Juan December 17, 2012 at 10:45 am

Asthey say, There is always next year, and its coming quick! On the video the conditions looked horrible in Phoenix. Jack Nicholson did not look so good after his lobotomy in ‘One flew over the cuckoos nest’ funny.

Carilyn December 17, 2012 at 11:47 am

It is so frustrating, Kirstin! I hope we both get our mojo back :)

Carilyn December 17, 2012 at 11:47 am

Yes, lobotomy would be a drastic procedure, Juan, but I am desperate (well, maybe not that desperate!) :) Hope to see you on a run this holiday!

Char December 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm

How does running 50 miles equate with failure? You ultra runners are crazy people. I just sit and read that in awe.

And how did you know I was putting off writing Christmas cards? Used to be that filing my nails was my preferred form of procrastination. Not any more.

olga December 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm

I saw/followed a little and figured you are done. Well, Pam was done after a 100. And seems that we are a bit fed up with staying out too long and inflicting pain too much? I am just glad you got your boys back! Yes, we do have running. Racing is sometimes good, some times not so much:)

Carilyn December 17, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Thanks, Olga! It does seem like we have less tolerance for the suck :)

Carilyn December 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Thank you, Char! And I’m glad I could help with your procrastination :)

Kate December 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Well, I was just saying to a friend yesterday that I don’t see any shame in DNFing a 100 mile race. I’d say the same goes for a 24-hour run…even without the rain. You’re pretty amazing in my book. And yes, other runners are pretty awesome.

Pam December 17, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Carilyn- I took the day off work, so I have the opportunity to blog comment! Sorry your day did not go as planned, but the rain certainly added another layer of challenge. I changed plans mid-race and am not unhappy with my decision, but I cannot tell you how much respect I have for the 24 hour runners after this. As Olga said, I was DONE after 100 miles. To push for another 9 hours and give your all for that long is simply amazing. I went to watch the finish and was so inspired by the sheer focus and determination of those left on the track.

Wishing you the best for your recovery. I know I am basically a stranger and am not too wise, either (so take this with a couple of S-caps)- but sometimes when I lose my motivation for running, it is because I get caught up in what I think I *should* be doing (amount of training or races) or what I think others expect me to do, instead of doing things I really want. Take care. -pam

Carilyn December 17, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Pam, you are simply amazing! Watching you race was one of the highlights of the year for me. I don’t think many people comprehend just how difficult it is to maintain your pace for 100 miles – and never look like you are working!! Truly, you are a gifted runner.

I hope we cross paths again in the future! Have a great New Year!

Carilyn December 17, 2012 at 6:53 pm

You are so great, Kate! Thank you so much!

Anne December 18, 2012 at 6:58 am

Times like these, I remind myself, “They can’t all be winners.”

Marcia December 18, 2012 at 8:20 am

Ditto what Kate said. You’re amazing. DNF, chafing and all.
Don’t fall over but I sent cards yesterday. I know. Amazing.

pensive pumpkin December 18, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Until you watch me drag my fat ass through 13.1, you will not understand the depths of suck embracing that go on. Yes, you may have length figured out. BUT ALMOST EVERYONE I KNOW CONSIDERS 78 MILES TOO FAR TO DRIVE, FOR THE LOVE OF FUDGSICLES. Depth? No. It shall elude you, Rock Star- you cannot claim three dimensional suck. Actual suckage shall always elude you. Because it cannot go 78 miles. In the rain. In the desert. With gremlins on its back.

78 Miles is not a failure. Don’t make me slap you around. What’s your safe word, BTW?

Carilyn December 18, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Aaaaaahhh! Thanks so much, Marcia! And you are Ahmed of me on the cards!

Carilyn December 18, 2012 at 8:49 pm

You just crack me up! And that is the best medicine, PP! Thank you!

Carilyn December 19, 2012 at 8:06 am

So true, Anne!

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