Shortly after I completed my 37 mile Georgia Jewel ultramarathon, I read a post Meg Landymore shared on the race Facebook page. Meg actually won the female division of the 50-mile race. She wrote this:
"On Chasing Your Ghost"
I thought I was ready to face my prior self head on, I thought I'd prepped for this race. What I didn't know was what it would actually feel like to chase myself and watch myself fade into the distance because...well, you can't chase a ghost. The feeling of losing the battle with yourself from a different time but in the exact same place. That, I was not prepared for.
I wasn't prepared to be raw as I silently spewed my reality and/or excuses on the empty dark trail, "I'm a mom of two now" "I opened a business" "I had surgery" "covid".... But they fall on deaf heightened nerve endings in the mind where the resounding "you're not even close to the athlete you were that day " reverberates through my body with every step....With every misstep and near fall the memory of how I some how didn't trip at all in the first 20 miles of the Georgia jewel 100 in 2018...
The lesson from 2018 though was to be positive, to be kind (to myself) and it worked. So in between constantly tripping in 2020 I'd remind myself to ignore the ghost and focus on this moment, just as I had in 2018. So you see now how 2020 continued to remind me of 2018... But it wasn't and is not. I'm not the same. I am Better.
My race in 2018- the Golden moment or 21 hrs of moments -were that of magical concoction of pure love, grit, hard effort and a whole Lot of Luck, amazing volunteers, crew and pacing. The truth is, I don't know how I ran so well that day... But I continue to hold onto the lessons I learned.
1. Be positive, be kind to yourself - most of the struggles of ultra running is in fact in your head.
2. nutrition really is Key... My race fell apart in 2018... Thank goodness I ran such a killer first 74 miles because the last 26 were a mixed bag of naive mistakes- the same ones I always used to make ...mostly that I hadn't eaten anything since the three bites of veggie burger atop John's mountain- where I swore to my crew I'd eat because I'd failed to at dry creek for hours prior.
3. All the moments matter when you look back. I'm type A...I tear myself apart for each moment that I walked too slow or mentally caved in. In the moments of "weakness" I would tell myself "it's OK to rest a bit, it's OK to fail" but then when I crossed the finish line with any doubt in my mind I'd spend weeks analyzing why I let myself down... How I'd "failed" to give it my all
So fast forward to 2020... Where my baseline speed is slower, my baseline chronic pain level is higher and I add up what I am, as an athlete after a very well put together 50 mile race (and a handful of good ones since 2018).
I have finally learned:
I now know exactly how to manage my nutrition through to the very end. I can run hard at the end of a race.
I now know how to talk to myself to stay focused even when I'm chasing my own ghost and feeling fairly low and tripping left and right.
I now know how to be certain that when I look back on my race I can be proud of it, no matter where I landed in the field because I gave it everything I had. No Regrets.
I am a better athlete than I've ever been, and has nothing to do with speed and everything to do with heart.
I was moved by Meg's words, so I reached out and asked if I could interview her. She said yes, and here is our discussion.
You can download this discussion at the Running4Soles podcast on podbean or itunes - you can also listen to it on Spotify.
You can read Meg's double SCAR race recap here: Run the Ride