Confidence is a tricky thing. No matter how many races or miles I run, confidence in my abilities is the one thing that I always struggle with. Usually a personal best or podium appearance is met with excitement for a short period followed by the nagging questions from the VOICES. "Was it just a fluke? Did the course measure out? Did you place well because of a good performance or was it because the competition wasn't there? What could you have done different to make it better? Did you leave it all on the course or did you wimp out and save some?" These questions are legitimate and I feel they should be asked but I also realize it can be a hindrance moving forward. I have always been and will remain my own biggest critic. I think that comes naturally to those that are constantly searching for ways to push forward through the boundaries of personal and perceived limitations.
This year has been a tough one for me in the area of self confidence. Going into The Rocky Raccoon 100 miler back in early February I had the notion that I could, and would, finish in 18 hours and 30 minutes. Of course, like life, nothing in running is ever guaranteed and I struggled during the race. I took a chance during the first two loops and probably went too hard ignoring my hydration and nutritional needs for 40 miles. That was a big mistake but nothing I wouldn't try again. The humidity steadily increased and peaked at a ridiculous 93% and I was completely shot by mile 50. The humidity combined with my stupidity resulted in missing my goal by 3 hours. No excuses just poor planning on my part.
So... I acted like a baby and pouted around for weeks. It was tough. I refused to buy into the notion that the weather was a factor. The fact that almost half the field dropped that day wasn't enough to ease my pain because I always pride myself on performing well in the face of adversity. It's one of those things that really fire me up. My best races have come in icy conditions or crazy thunderstorms. To think that the humidity affected me so much was not acceptable. I made mistakes. Maybe I made them in training. Maybe I wasn't ready. Maybe I'm not as good at 100 milers as I thought. These thoughts are not new, in fact, there has never been a race that I lined up at where I didn't feel like a poser.
Luckily there was another opportunity in early March to regain my confidence after such a lackluster showing. The All Day Autism Run in Enid, Oklahoma. It was a 30 hour run that had a unique spin. 6 mile loops with the clock resetting every hour and a half. I could run 6 miles, grab a burger and chill for the remaining time before hitting the next loop. I could easily do 20 loops in that format, right? Wrong..... After just 6 loops (36 short miles) I experienced an intense pain in my calf muscle that ran all the way down to my ankle. It was a humiliating and devastating experience to have to pull out and watch the rest of the event play out.
Over the next month and a half I rested and rehabbed as my confidence spiraled down to an all time low. As I eased back into training, there was some serious thoughts to pulling out of the Leadville 100 this August. Thankfully I have completely freed my mind of the idea not to run Leadville. It's been a struggle to come back around, and my training is still sub par at the moment, but I'm ready to move forward and put the past where it belongs.
One of my favorite quotes says, "If what you did yesterday still seems big then you have done nothing today." I have used this to motivate and propel me towards the next big adventure/dumb stunt after some really great races. I'm not the smartest guy in he world and it takes me a while to fully grasp some things but I now understand that quote encompasses not only the good days but also the bad. I will remember that as I continue along the journey with a relentless forward motion. My own self doubt has worked as a motivator in previous years and I'm not about to let it become my Achilles heel now.
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