During Ghost Train, mile 75 represented a critical moment in my race. It was that cold and dark moment just before dawn, it was that moment I could no longer see straight or formulate solid sentences, and it was that moment I first thought I wouldn’t finish my 100 mile attempt. It was not my finest hour. Or mile.
I realize that the physical and emotional toll of having covered 75 miles at that point, coupled with having run through 13 hours of darkness and the ensuing sleep deprivation, was much greater than many life moments one might experience (and not usually all at once!). But in retrospect, mile 75 could take the place of any life moment that we face that requires a decision. A moment when you’re at a cross road. A moment that could change you one way or another.
I remember lamenting to Sue D how “unlucky you are to pace me on this leg” and in quick response, she assured me, “I think I’m pretty lucky actually; I got to see you work through all the exhaustion and pain and leave it behind to finish”. Jeez, when you put it that way Sue….. And with plenty of sleep and ten days post-Ghost Train, I can now see how Sue might feel that way. It was awful for Scott and my friends to see me hit my “wall”, but then they watched me get up. And I walked. And I never turned back.
As I reflect, I think about other times in my life that have been mile 75-esque –
Earlier in my career, I remember the desire to flee various jobs when they got difficult. Some I did flee; others I did not. Those I did not flee are those that made me stronger and more confident. Because I worked through whatever was scaring me or threatening my confidence, I then became braver and more confident. What a simple and awesome domino effect!
On a more granular level, I still hit moments at times when I’m not sure what to do or even where to start. Don’t we all? In the short time I worked through mile 75 and went on to finish my 100 mile goal, I’ve hit a moment or two at work that have left me slightly overwhelmed. I don’t think the overwhelmed feeling goes away necessarily, but I think it just feels more attainable once you’ve struggled through something like mile 75 and have seen the light on the other side.
If we’re lucky, we get friends that last a lifetime. But alas, friends do come and go. Sometimes those friends you thought you’d have forever lose their luster or become toxic. Knowing when to work through the salvageable relationships and learning when to cut them loose is a challenge. Either way, the action can bring you to a stronger place with those friends you keep and make room for friends you may need, but don’t even know yet!
I attended college back in the day, but only last two years before quitting. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and couldn’t remember why I was there. This decision has two cool domino effects tied to it:
- When I left college, I took a temporary role at a bank. My now husband Scott was a loan officer there. The rest is history J
- When I decided to return and complete my bachelor’s, I was in my 30’s and extremely overwhelmed. A friend enlightened me about the program she was participating in and took me under her wing. That decision lead me to graduating a month before my 40th birthday with summa cum laude honors. A year later, I enrolled in a master’s program and graduated in 2009.
Many have asked me how I had the strength to get up out of the chair at mile 75. Others have commented that they “could never run 100 miles”. I’m just a regular person. I don’t run for money or my career or my ego. I just run because I enjoy it, the efficiency, the goals, the camaraderie, and because I suck at dieting! And to be just a little bit more corny, I ran 100 miles because I truly believed I could.
I got such energy and support from Scott and friends that morning at mile 75. They said and did all of the right things. But still, the decision to get up and continue was all mine. Running 75 miles would still have been a personal best for mileage and certainly, one of my most challenging events to date. But I had trained for 100 miles and more importantly, knew that completing 75 miles instead of the goal of 100 miles would have left me in a very different mindset today. The “simple” act of getting up that day will stay with me for the rest of my life.