Typically in life, at least my life, the times that I look back on most and spend much time reflecting, analyzing, and pondering about are the moments when I was most challenged, hurt, or confused. Typically, as in this case, it is all three.
Last Sunday I ran a 44k trail race called the #CM6. The 44k (labeled 42k) was one of 5 distances offered. I was excited to finally run a trail race here in Chiang Mai.
It was an absolutely beautiful, yet extremely challenging course with over 2000m of climbing and descending on very slick and muddy trails.
Despite the outcome of the race, as I look back on that day I am extremely grateful for the camaraderie, the atmosphere, the challenging mud and hills, and even for the extra 5k I ran.
50k races are fun but I was looking forward to only running 44k this day.
As I left the last aid station in 1st place excited to run down the last 10k to the finish line, somewhere between watching my footing, dodging runners/walkers from the other distances with their trekking poles, and focusing on going fast without falling, I missed a turn and ended up on a loop for one of the other distances. It was marked with the correct arrows and bright orange tape making it seem like I was on course, which made it even more confusing because I didn’t know for sure I had gone the wrong way until, 50 minutes later, I was back at the last aid station.
At this point, being out of energy, out of food, nearly out of water, super frustrated, and now way behind the leaders, I had a decision to make. I could give up and walk the rest of the way, or I could dig deep, fight through the pain and frustration and try to have some fun as I do what I enjoy most, run really fast down the mountain.
Fighting off cramps, dehydration, hunger, and confusion, I decided that I was here to run my hardest and finish well, so that’s what I did. I took off as fast as I could back down the same path as before, careful to look around to see where I took the wrong turn.
Pretty soon I had reached the finish line, after passing another guy in my race and never seeing where I took the wrong turn before.
Even after scrutinizing the map numerous times after returning home, I still to this day have no clue as to how I got on the other course.
It seems as though, despite my best intentions and hopes, I was just supposed to run that extra 5k that day. I don’t know why, but I do know it has made me think a lot more about the race than I would have if I had just coasted down to the finish, won the race, and happily went on with life.
All that thinking has made me realize how grateful I am for being able to run that race, for getting to run with some great other runners, for getting muddy, for not getting hurt, and for having the opportunity to challenge myself and force myself to dig deep and persevere despite the super frustrating and difficult circumstances.
When I was a kid I always dreamed about running a marathon, but never thought it would be possible.
Now, here I am 20 years later after running numerous marathons, ultras, and triathlons, running an extra very challenging muddy 5k in a 44k mountain mud race and not thinking much about it other than being frustrated for the lost time.
It used to be very tough to even run a flat 5k on a road. Now I’m able to run an unexpected extra 5k in a mountainous trail marathon and not think much about it.
I’m extremely grateful that God has give me the ability to run and compete in such long and difficult races and to inspire others to do difficult things.
I’m thankful to have the opportunity to do something so challenging and difficult and to have the strength of body and mind to finish, and to not lose heart.
I will remember the intense struggle it took to earn this 4th place finish more than I ever would have if I had coasted down to the finish line as the overall champion. Enjoying this journey….
I am especially grateful to the following companies for believing in me, encouraging me, supporting me, and standing with me: