I battled some demons at Mt. Baldy yesterday. I have been battling all kind of demons since July 2012. Today’s demons were fears and self-doubt in my own abilities. The plan for today did not include summiting Mt. Baldy (San Antonio); the plan was to run up to the Notch and then do the Triple Tee’s: Thunder, Telegraph and Timber. Things started out fine, although I wasn’t running as much as I would have liked up the fireroad to the Notch–which led me to decide to only hike the uphills for most of the day. We hiked almost all the way to the top of the first of the Tee’s, Thunder.
After leaving Thunder, the trail suddenly switched from fire roads to single track (more like half track) that reminded me of the scary section of the Kodiak 100–I believe it was the Siberia section of that race–that I paced Derick for, back in September. That section of Kodiak was on a brand new trail, in the middle of the night; and we all felt like we were going to fall into the dark abyss. The Triple Tee’s trail is a lot more stable, but in my mind, I started to freak out. Then about 0.75 miles after leaving thunder, we came across large ice patches covering the entire trail. We had left our microspikes in the car and I have never been on a trail with Ice before. I was not in a good mental place and I convinced myself that I was not physically capable of crossing this ice section safely; so I decided to turn around and not attempt to cross the ice. The new plan was to turn around and summit Mt. Baldy. But my mind was not happy about this. I am still getting back in shape after five weeks off from an injury and I was content with cutting the run short due to how tough it was for me yesterday. I also have been battling not being consistent or feeling in shape since August 2012. As I was struggling to go up Mt. Baldy via Devil’s Backbone–the easiest of the routes to the summit; and a route that I have done dozens of time with no issues–my mind kept putting negative thoughts in my head. I was ready to quite a few times. Fortunately Steve, who I was running with, talked me into continuing. Though I resisted and kept trying to quit for the day, I got up to the top of Baldy, even running three sections of the final scramble to the top.
The day at Baldy was important for me because I needed the mental kick in the ass, but I also started to think about what is different about how I approach running between when I was doing well and now. I have not complete an ultra since Avalon 50 in January of 2013. And my last four road marathons were my four slowest marathons ever–to be fair three of them were in consecutive days as part of the Tahoe Triple. I also have not had the emotional or physical energy to put in the work needed to get back to where my running was in 2011 and the first half of 2012. This is when I started to think about “My Why.” One thing Coach Jimmy says about running 100 miles is that you have to know what Your Why is–you need to know why you are putting your body through extreme conditions for extended periods of time. It was thinking about this that led me to realize that my drive has gone away–mostly a result of emotional exhaustion.
By the time we got back to the car, we had gotten over 17 miles in and tons of time on feet. But most importantly, I had found a desire or drive to not only get my running back on track, but also determined to face my demons–getting back to this blog after a long break is great way for me to face them.
Part 2 of this post–to be posted at a later date–will really dive into what My Why is. This is more of a brief account of me hitting my low and trying to finally figure my way out. I have had many lows–some of the lowest lows in my life–since August of 2012. I have done tons of soul searching since then. I have drastically changed major aspects of my life. But putting it all together during a low point is the beginning of finding your way out of the cycles of lows. I know I will have lows in the future, but the goal is to change the scale, such that my future lows do not approach the lows of the past 20 or so months.