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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!



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