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Tag: Running

Supporting or Supported?

I was thinking about races, ultras of course, and I found out why they appeal to some.  While editing my last video, Rabid Raccoon I noticed I filmed a lot of aid stations.  I love capturing interactions with people.  Aid station workers are a different breed, they are in the “supporting” role all day.  Supporting, odds are, people they don’t know.  They will feed you, fill your bottles, and maybe even fix your feet.   All of this so you can complete YOUR race.  It’s comical we pay to do this, but I see why.  You spend a DAY being pampered and in the spotlight.  You are “supported” for an entire day.  It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet of subpar food, I mean don’t get me wrong, aid station food is amazing, but it’s a quick and easy fare.  It was the attention I got that I noticed in the video.  Each aid station went all out as they put all effort into meeting your needs. 

Aid station workers are an amazing group of people

Are ultrarunners just seeking attention?  Am I just seeking attention?  If you are reading this, on a blog I own and post my random thoughts, the answer is yes.  Putting that topic aside, that has to be part of the draw to racing.  Racing puts the spotlight on you.  If you have kids, work a demanding job, or have lots of stress, it can be an escape to get the attention you so desperately seek.  Running by the cheering crowds you feel as though they’re all there for you.  You are the star, you get the attention and the fame, and MAYBE you go home with the medal! 

Sometimes there are too many choices at an aid station.

I used to race constantly, initially part of me chasing that spotlight.  I felt as though I had no talent and found something I was good at.  I raced a lot and won a lot and it was addictive.  Kids and a job came, priorities shifted, and I enjoyed being out there longer.  The more time with your thoughts.  The more time you suffer.  I enjoyed that and the solitude of running.  It’s bizarre, that it went from racing surrounded by crowds to racing alone in the woods with just your thoughts.  Running for myself has changed so much, I’ve changed, and that’s what this sport does.  Running doesn’t change, but you change along the ride.  You shift from being supported by crowds and fans, to being supported by a select few.  You have to think differently as time passes.  It’s ever-evolving much like life.  Ultras and life are messy, difficult, challenging experiences that demand you to change as the race goes on.  What worked in the beginning in the race of life, doesn’t work as well in the later stages.  The game changed just as you think you’ve figured it out.

Artificial Intelligence thinks you need pens at an aid station.

You shift as we age from being supported to supporting others.  I realized you can’t always take without giving back, you have to spend time supporting.  There’s a balance that must be maintained for sanity, friendships, and relationships to stay afloat.  Taking time to help others, as much as you have been helped.  As my running career enters its next stage I’m just happy to be out on the trails.  I never take for granted all those who helped me get to this point in life, my family, friends, and all those races.  I am just trying to figure out what the next chapter will look like.  Maybe it’s helping others find meaning through movement.  I feel this strain to give back.  How can I give back?  That’s what I have been asking myself.  I am slowly figuring it out and seeing what part to play in the running community.  It just takes a lot of time, and I’m OK with that.  I used to think change happened fast, but I was wrong.  It’s slow.  REALLY slow, if not years to get to where you need to be.  You just have to take that first step!  

Thanks for reading, if you enjoyed it let me know how running has changed for you over the years, or how it has stayed the same.  There’s no right or wrong answer. 

Slaying the 100 Mile Monster

This idea came from a question. What is your number #1 priority for 2024?

Gain XP!  What is XP?  In video games, XP is experience.  XP is how to level up your video game avatar or character. As a kid, I played games like Golden Ax, Gauntlet, and Hero’s Quest where you picked a character at the start. There were 4 characters to choose from. A warrior, wizard, archer, or valkyrie. If you are reading this you might have selected the same character as I did, a trail runner. Maybe you slowly became this character over time, either way, your actions brought you here.

UltraRunning Character Selection Screen. Sometimes it feels like I’ve taken an arrow to the knee…

Certain adventures or quests are available once you have gained enough XP.  There are many quests that you can choose from year after year as you level up. This year I plan to slay the 100 Miler monster. It’s not my first time slaying it, but each year the monster comes back, slightly stronger, with different abilities and methods of attack. The difference is I have gained intelligence, strength, speed, agility, and more skills than the year before.

What quest could you take in 2024 that would give you more XP? With games that level up your character, you can’t keep picking the same quests you’ve done previously.  They will pay little to no XP, or gold as a reward.  We have to take on bigger quests than before.  We have to break out of the habits and routines we do year after year.

100 Miler Monster

Part of what made these games great was taking on the quests TOGETHER.  It was a shared experience with friends.  Those make for not only the most rewarding challenges but also the most memorable. I have made lifelong friends during my trail adventures. Gaining XP by yourself is one thing, but sharing it with others is where the real magic comes in.  That’s the formula for great games, experiences, and a great life.  So for this year, I am setting my sights on XP, and hopefully bringing the “trail running” character I’ve selected to his highest level before he fights the end boss.

The 100 Miler Monster

How do you defeat the 100 miler monster?  It’s almost like the race knows your weaknesses and will use them against you! The trick is you have fought mini-versions of the boss in your training. These side quests were done during your training to become a warrior. You were fighting mini-boss battles that consisted of quests in the cold, rocky, wet, trails around your village you grew up. They were shorter quests, but similar to the end boss.

The 100-miler boss is extremely powerful. He can even turn your own body against you! You have tested the elixirs and potions you have created consisting of Tailwind and GUs. Once you get to the 100 miler boss fight, which normally comes around mile 70-80, you know his tricks. You know what he’ll throw at you.  He might have a surprise attack you haven’t seen but you will defeat him.  

100 Miler Monster
What is chasing you during the entire race

You are going to war with at first the mini-bosses and then finally the 100-miler monster at the end.  Who will win?  Did you level up enough?  Do you have enough XP to defeat the monster?  If you have taken on all the side quests, and put in the time, you can slay that beast. Victory will be yours, for you are a warrior, and this epic quest along with all that glory waits at the finish line.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy “A Runner’s final race”. It’s a post where I try to imagine what happens to a runner the second they pass away. Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it please consider sharing the story.

Some of the other images I created when making this post