"So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning." ~Morrie Schwartz
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.
Attitude to me, is more important than facts. It is more important
than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than
failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is
more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or
break a company.....a church.....or home. The remarkable thing is, we
have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that
day. We cannot change our past....we cannot change the fact that people
will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only
thing we can do is play on the one string we have and that is our
attitude....I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you....we are in charge
of our attitudes." - Charles Swindoll
Length: 50 Miles
Location: Middletown, RI
Race: Nifty Fifty Ultra - New England Ultra-Running Championship
Time: 10 Hours 5 Minutes 44 Seconds
Place: 21st out of 27
Div: (M0-30) 3rd. However, age divisions were only recognized for those over the age of 40.
I was the 2nd youngest finisher.. someone who was 24 finished right behind me.
And for those who like to read... the report.
A few months back I was focusing on how my running for the year would go. When would I race, how long is the race and how much time to train will I have. It was when I noticed that there was a 50 Miler in Rhode Island the day after my 25th birthday that I knew I HAD to run it. I assembled quite a challenging race schedule, three 50's and a marathon in 3 months. Experienced ultra-runners told me I was crazy. I knew better. It isn't about whats crazy or not, or what is impressive or not... it's about the challenge. The challenge of digging deep and discovering again, who it is that lives deep within my soul. Is there a better way to celebrate a 1/4 century of life, than redisovering who I am? Is there a better way to challenge myself for sheer reflection? I'm sure some have better ideas, but this is what I choose. To run in the 2006 Breakers Nifty Fifty Ultra-Marathon. The New England Ultra-Running Championship.
Friday, October 20th
Today's my Birthday. Work was fun. My students decorated my room before I got in to school and some even brought me treats. I was careful with what I ate with the race tomorrow. But it was cute and fun none-the-less and I thanked them for their thoughtfulness.
At home Sarah and I ran soem errands before settling down for a pasta dinner. Spaghetti and bread. Typical pre-race carbo loading. There was no cake, no dessert.. just some "Deal or No Deal" before going to bed at 9pm. The celebrating would have to wait till tomorrow.
Saturday, October 21st - Race Day
We left Dover at 3:30am headed for Rhode Island. It seemed as though we were the only cars on the road and honestly... we were. When we reached Rhode Island we went over various bridges and only the shining moonlight made the water glisten. We watched as shooting stars streamed across the night sky during these pre-dawn hours. We reached the high school where the race was being run from. Retrieved my bib number and proceeded to get ready for the run.
Weather is often a major factor in determining how your run will go. Today's weather was ceratainly going to be a challenge, especially for those of us without "extra padding." Race start was 44 degrees with a 15mph wind and gusts to 30mph. Winds for the race would stay the same and the temp would rise 10 degrees. Eitherway, I was suited up properly and ready to go.
Just past 7am we recieved the command and off we went. I positioned myself at the rear of the pack so as to not leave the starting line in a "marathon rush" running the pace of much faster runners. After all, I had 50 miles to go and pacing myself is most important.
The course is a loop course. Runners run ONE 10 mile loop then 2 smaller loops for marathoners and 5 smaller loops for us 50 milers. The first 2 1/2 miles of the course meander it's way through quiet Middletown neighborhoods. We then circumnavigate the Norman Bird Sanctuary/Hanging Rocks along the Sachuest Bay area. The scenery out over the ocean was gorgeous. On the first BIG loop we headed out to the Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge before returning back to the course of the smaller loops.
We ran past the local resevoir before climbing various small hills that wound us back into more expensive neighborhoods. At the 5K to go of each loop, the road ascended a large hill where a very large farm sat on top. We then headed through a llama farm, the towns soccer field, then up a smaller hill towards the school to complete the loop. It was uniquely scenic but quickly got boring. You saw it once... and I thought that that was enough... seeing it 5 more times got a bit monotonous.
The biggest challenges of the whole loop was the large hill and the painful pavement unrelenting pavement.
One To Go!
As we finished the 2nd loop of the day, many of the marathoners were elated to know there was ONE lap to go. As I ran beside and past some, each said it with a smile "One To Go." At first I just smiled but then began responding with, "yup... and then I get to do 3 more." They seemed confused at first before remembering there was a 50 Mile run going on at the same time. But on this last loop of the marathon, I began to sink in and out of reality often times getting lost in another world. I started to walk every few miles and the pain in my knees from the constant pounding was finally starting to take its toll. I was in a LOT of pain but pushed on regardless.
Running most of the race within line of sight, either in front or behind, was a group of men in their 30's. From what info I got, they are used to doing Iron-Mans and hadn't run a marathon in almost 10 years. So here they were enjoying every minute of the race... dressed in various costumes. There was Elvis, a hippie, a football referee and an alcatraz prisoner who was celebrating his birthday. These men were running a comfortable marathon pace and I followed them into their finish.
And so now as I leave Sarah at the start, who was guarding my basket of supplies.. I took off down the road alone. With 23.8 miles to run, I would spend almost the entirety of these miles by myself. This is what I wanted, time to reflect on this life and lessons learned... and so it began. It was getting harder and harder to run, my knees were sreaming in pain, mainly where the IT band meets the knob just below my knee on the outside. I ran when I could and walked the hills. At the aid stations I kept eating what I had all day (Totals: 4 Banana's, 7 Chocolate Chip Cookies, 32 Gummi Bears, 5 small cups of soda, Almost a gallon of Gatorade Endurance and a half gallon of water.) When I saw Sarah after loop 4 I was in a nasty low and then again after loop 5. In fact at the end of loop 5 I was in so much pain all I wanted to do was get it over... I wanted to quit. I decided to not talk, fill the bottles and take off so as to not get talked into quitting.
25 Years of Lessons
I've learned many lessons in 25 years of life. I often find myself looking back to times of old, trying to remember what it was like to be 4 or 5 years old again. But we all know, as we get older, we often times find ourselves forgetting about times gone by. But the one thing.. the BIG thing I remember from my life is the biggest lesson my parents taught me. I've said it before and I'll say it again, "YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO." So many times I hear folks who tell me they can't run a 5K or a mile.... they'll never run a marathon. But the truth is... YOU CAN you just don't WANT to. Desire is another poweful tool, used seldom in a world filled with "lazy" inventions. During yesterdays marathon, I observed as various runners of sex, age, race and disablility completed their 3 laps before I went on to complete 6. But it was ONE man in particular that forced me to shed tears from me eyes. Motivation is a smoke screen, DESIRE is the fire.
As I left to run my 5th lap, this man was starting his 3rd and final lap of the marathon. Sitting in a wheelchair with a form of cerebal paulsy, he sat backwards with his legs touching the pavement. 2 men went with him, one holding a string attached to the front of his chair to help steer him on the turns and control him on the hills. This man, to me.. is superman, and its his testament to life that will forever sit in my heart as a lesson. For 26.2 Miles, he used every ounce of energy in his body to PUSH WITH HIS FOOT. Each push launched him all of 1 to 2 feet... up hills and down, around turns and across the finish line after almost 10 Hours of relentless loops... HE DID IT and all because he knew deep down "YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO." If there was EVER a lesson in life I learned... this would be #1 proved over and over again.
I also learned a valuable lesson about growing. As the quote states above... We are in charge of our attitudes. Through this life, and more so through the last few years, I've learned that I am indeed in charge of my attitude. People will say what they will and do as they must, but in the end it's how I react to those circumstances, positive or not, that will forever dictate how I live each day. I can choose to dwell on the negative or learn from it. I can choose to life with the positive or die without it. Life is a quest, a magnificent journey and one that I am happy to be partaking in. It IS worth living and I CAN do anything and I WILL do at the very least... my best.
The Final Lap
I left Sarah after a quick break at the middle school. I walked down the road as tunes blared into my ears. The sun was setting and at that angle that pierces your eyeballs. As I left the aid, an ultra-runner who had allready finished told me to "run a little, walk a little, run a little, walk a little." OH YEAH! I forgot thats how its done. With this small piece of advice, I began running from mailbox to mailbox, from telephone pole to telephone pole... anything I could fix my sights on up ahead. As I ran down hill into mile 3.. I looked back and thought I saw a runner. Are you kidding me?! There's someone else out here? I thought I was in last for god sakes. Seeing as this was afterall a "race" I wasn't about to let this guy pass me.
I ran into the aid station for a QUICK stop. I then carried on down the road... run, walk, run, walk, run etc. I began to check behind me and with each check this dude was getting closer and closer. By Mile 45 I turned back to see him all of 200 Yards behind me. After 9 Hours of running on this junk... how was he doing it?! I started to run wore than walk and at times... walking proved faster than running whatever it took... I kept him 200+ yards back. As we approached the largest and longest hill on the course I knew I had it made. This guy was walking as much as me, but my hiking typically gives me an advantage on the hills.
As I hit the hill... I remember a song playing on my iPod... and it was GREAT! (Forget the song now though) I motored up the hill as quickly as I could. At the top I ran into the next aid where the race volunteers had just arrived to take down. I asked how far back the guy behind me was and they told me, "It WAS about 100 yards but now its 1/4 Mile." I was pysched and I carried on down the road towards the finish. once again past the llama farm, passed the soccer fields and vineyard and up the last small hill. Then on the horizon was the schools American Flag... a huge smile on my face, the wind blowing strong (still) and it was onto the track.
After 2 1/2 laps on the school track... I finished 50 Miles for the second time with a time of 10:05. I crashed onto the field and Sarah presented me with an Apple Pie.. this is how I wanted to celebrate my B-day and it was so SWEET. Next Up: JFK 50 Miler - Maryland - 11.18.06