Well it's been more than a week since my first 100 miler at the Bryce Canyon 100, a week to recover, slow down, and think on the fact that I ran 100 miles. It's a very rare thing in our society to want to run one mile let alone 100 so I'm cognizant of how incredible my achievement is, coupled with the fact that it was a mountainous race with many more challenges than if it was 100 miles on road. That race was the end to one chapter and the beginning of a new one, it was my high school graduation present to myself and my send off to college in the fall. To run 100 miles is more than transformative, it's transcendent and it allows you to have an infinitely more enlightened perspective on what pain is. One thing that I talked about in last week's podcast recap of the race (which you can listen to here if you like) was how I hallucinated. If you know anything about ultrarunning then you know that hallucinations are things that happen in a race and going into the race I knew they were a very real possibility, however I didn't they'd happen to me. Boy was I wrong!
This actually brings up one aspect of my preparation for this race that I haven't really talked about all that much, my ego. I let my ego cloud my decisions preparing for this race and it didn't impact me that greatly, but it could have. I was arrogant enough to think that I could easily finish the race under 24 hours, that I wouldn't hallucinate, and that the heat wouldn't affect me. All three of those things turned out in the exact opposite way as life is. I finished the race in 35 hours and 40 minutes, instead of 24, I hallucinated like crazy, and the heat destroyed me. Like in life a race never turns out exactly how you expect, the trail takes twists and turns that you never expected. The only way to deal with these unexpected challenges is to simply go with the flow and I know it sounds cliché, but it really works. To get through this race I had to take each new challenge with a present mind that responds with solutions, not reacts with anger. The hallucinations were really the thing that most threw me for a loop at this race. I've never hallucinated before and to experience it so consistently for hours on end (I figured afterwards that I probably hallucinated for 18 hours, about half the race) was crazy. Each hallucination seemed so real, thankfully I never had the type of hallucinations were you think you are somewhere else, the main feature of the mix of hallucinations that I was given was that I stopped being able to distinguish what was real and what was not, so much so that I stopped trusting myself. It got so bad at one point that I waited on the trail for someone to pass so that I could ask them if what I was seeing was real and the way I was going was correct, thankfully it was.
This race ate me up and spit me back out again and again. To feel lost within your own head is something that I've never experience before and something that was shocking to endure to say the least. Not knowing what was real and what wasn't was what led me to feel like my psyche was in a rowboat amongst a stormy ocean. A few steps down the trail seemed pointless, not that I wanted to quit the race, more pointless that I knew I was messed up, so to keep moving seemed idiotic until I sorted my mind out. However, thanks to the great advice I was given before the race I was able to remember what was drilled into my head, to keep moving! So even though half of my mind wanted to stop and sort myself out, the other half was still rational enough to keep taking one step after the other. If I just kept taking a step I knew eventually I would reach that finish line.
Now that I've had more than a week to absorb and reflect on this race a thought has struck me, "How in the world did I do that!?" After every tough adventure I usually have some form of that thought, but after Bryce I really have to wonder how I overcame those challenges. To be honest I don't know, all I know is that the perseverance that was bred from accomplishing that is a skill that I will be able to call upon in any tough situation from now on.
This past week has been a total recovery week, I have not ran and have been sleeping in late everyday. It's been really nice and I'm doing things that I rarely ever do like eat ice cream (vegan of course), sleep until 8 or 9 in the morning, watch a ton of movies, and only hike instead of run. While these are crazy to me, I know that for most they're not jumping off the wild end, but to me they are unusual, rare, and fun. My family and I have also spent quality time together; I've been walking with my mom, going out with my dad, hanging with my sister, playing board games, and more. Life ebbs and flows, just a few weeks ago the race was my focus, now rest is my focus. I stayed present during my training, but now I must stay present in a different time. I feel like I am being to lazy at times, but it's rest and I should enjoy it for all it's worth, because I never do it like this.
It's odd to say the least to go from hallucinating to lying on a couch watching a movie, but I guess in life sometimes you need a little hallucinations to make sure you appreciate the couches. :)