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Author: Patrick Durante

Just show up.

A quote I came upon that I relate to running or big challenges in life:

Hard choices, easy life.  Easy choices, hard life.

Jerzy Gregorek

Most of the time we don’t know when life will become difficult. Once things get difficult there is nothing you can do, you are now forced into the situation. Now you get to ride the wave! You are committed, all chips are in. With running we don’t know what will happen once the race starts, you just have to deal with it. Weather, injury, stomach issues, foot pain, it’s going to be something if you let it bother you.  The thing is, it doesn’t have to! Suffering is a choice! You actually get to choose how you feel about most situations, Some of that is dependant on the experiences you have had. So that’s what training, preparing, studying, and working hard does. It prepares your mind to manage and expect everything and anything that might happen.  If you are working hard, odds are, you already have felt difficulty. You have felt the pain, soreness, hurt, and fatigue of giving all your effort. Nothing new is going to happen you haven’t already experienced. So get up every morning and just START, just go, put the time in. With all things, it’s the first time that’s most difficult. We just have to make those hard choices that will make everything else easier.

Once the big day is here, there’s nothing left to do.  The money is in the bank, whatever happens, won’t be because of any last-minute decisions, it’s out of your control. Everything is your fault, win or lose, succeed or fail we have nobody else but ourselves to blame. I have had so many races go sideways and I used to blame everything. You can’t look at things that way because once you do everything is out of YOUR control.  We only get so many chances, so many days. How are you going to spend them? What will they add up to?

I hope you get what you’re after. Personally, I’m chasing experience, I want more time, I want to see more places, races, meet more people. Don’t waste a day. I won’t live a life of regret. The biggest issue is once you get to the end, can you look back and be happy with yourself? What have you accomplished? Every day can be an opportunity to prove to yourself you can do amazing things. 2020 will be filled with new challenges, getting out of my comfort zone. When you are a little worried, when you feel scared, when things are tough, that’s when you know you are on the right path. That’s the only time you will change.

It all starts with putting in the time.  Doing the difficult things BEFORE I get to that starting line. Put in the time before the challenge shows up. I’m not hoping for a miracle come race day, I just have to show up.

Blues Cruise 2019

What went right?

If you are going to run your first ultra, the Blues Cruise 50K is the one to pick. That’s just what I did years ago and I keep coming back. The vibe of this race is incredible!
This was my 7th time racing Blues Cruise and I had what I call “fun with race day friends”. That’s when you meet new people on the trail and have a great time with them!

Patrick Durante with Kate Sidoli and Jessica Gockley
Sharing the miles with some super fast ladies!
Kate Sidoli and Jessica Gockley
PHOTO CREDIT: Teodor Beekneeyosec

I meet an incredible group of very fast women, all of which won awards in their respective age groups. Making friends can lead to a better race, but its the type of thing that only happens in ultras. It’s the shared suffering that creates a sense of comradery with strangers. You get to take your mind off the pain and it makes the running feel effortless! It places a limit on your suffering and for myself, I seem to run faster! My times are varied for this race, but maybe its because I don’t meet the right people? I’m unsure, but I finished right at 5 hours and felt great. I gave the race everything I had and that’s all one can hope for, just doing your best.

Trailing behind Kate Crane… As she took 1st place Masters.
PHOTO CREDIT: Teodor Beekneeyosec

What went wrong?

I set the virtual pace on my watch at 9:20 and was going to stick to that pace. This was based on what I had done in years previous. While in the race I had more fun running with strangers than focusing on time. I dropped the time goal and just made it about having fun. The people you are running with are better company than the clock. Know when to abandon something that no longer serves you, especially your watch!

I felt a lack of strength in the last 3 miles, the race taking its toll. I still lack late-race leg turnover, which means I lack strength.  Next year I plan to incorporate more strength and signed up for CrossFit classes at CrossFit Kanna. If I had structured workouts with a group I think I’ll find the missing link to better performance.

PHOTO CREDIT: Teodor Beekneeyosec

Final thoughts:

10 minutes after the race, I’m in pain but sad. It went by so quick! I don’t want my season to be over! When you are having fun time flies. That night I couldn’t even sleep. I was excited about how well the race went and how much fun I had. I hate to think about the day when I can no longer do this. I just love these long races. Races are the easy part of the season. You are filled with such excitement and being in the race is pure joy. I hope I can keep running until I’m 90! If I can’t I will just find something new to excite me that matches my physical ability.  Keep moving, keep training and keep racing! I always say there will come a day when I can no longer do this. Today was not that day, but hopefully, that day never shows up… 

The loop!

Post-race depression?

This seems like a total, “1st world problem”, but what happens if you start to feel depressed after a huge race?

We need massive goals in life that seem impossible to overcome. What happens after you achieve them? With great highs come terrible lows, the yin-yang of completing an ultra race. Finishing one of the hardest, HOT, races in my life I am faced with the question… What’s next? You completed that big task, conquered a difficult day, but life goes on. There’s no parade in your honor. Every day presents new challenges. You need to move on, life is more than your big wins. Set up new, dare I say it, bigger challenges! Rest and take pride in what you achieved, enjoy your victory, but don’t sit in the shade too long. The longer you sit, the harder it is to get back up again. When you start to feel the depression of “now what do I do”, and you wish to experience it all again you must KEEP MOVING! You have to set your sights on the next goal. Start planning the next big race, put something on the calendar. There’s always another race or event to plan for. If you won, or lost on that big day its no guarantee for future success. Nothing is guaranteed. Keep putting in the time and showing up!

One day of success or failure doesn’t define you. It doesn’t label you an ultra-runner. What if you didn’t make it through the course, or beat that time goal you had? In 100 years who cares? I’m sure you would be upset. Just remember life keeps moving, it doesn’t stop for you or your feelings. What life DOES do is give you more opportunities. The saying goes, that when everything goes right we learn nothing. It’s when things go WRONG that we learn the most. Maybe I would have learned more had I failed at my big race than making it to the finish line?