Just 8 hours earlier I was shuffling my way toward completion of my 5th loop at the Javelina Jundred (mile 77) when I had one of those moments that keeps me coming back. I had been struggling most of the day and night when for a brief moment the pain had subsided enough that I began to run. Not with grace or speed but I was running. I had made it through many rough hours and for the first time since lap one I was certain I was going to finish the 101.4 miles I had set out to complete. During this short burst of tolerable motion I began to feel that love of brutally painful bliss. It is possible to be miserable yet wonderfully alive at the same time and that is where I was at that moment.
About 90 minutes later I slowly entered the start finish area again. I reached my gear around 11:30 pm, more than 17 hours from the start of my adventure and the reality of my situation was becoming apparent. The physical pain in my right ankle and shin was extreme as my body began to scream at me in anger. The mental decision before me was even worse and I was not prepared to give in, hoping that if I continued to follow my own advice of just one more step I would eventually fight through this somehow. As quickly as I could I prepared for the next 15.4 miles which I was now assuming would take me about 5 hours. I had been warned of a severe rain storm approaching which in these chilly temperatures can be brutal when one is not moving fast enough to generate any heat. I was ready and put on all my requisite gear of misery and crawled off into the unknown. This was the first time I have ever felt nervous about what lie ahead.
My plan at this point was to walk as well as I could to each aid station. Sit down there for a few minutes to rest my leg and take in a little nutrition. I was definitely feeling weak in my mind at this point and I wanted to be sure I took my time and thought through everything as not to make any poor decisions one way or the other. When I reached the first aid station 3 miles later it was raining hard. I was not bothered by it much and would have preferred to keep moving to stay warm but wanted to stick to the plan I had made. This may have been the big mistake but who the hell knows. As I sat there it felt as though my ankle was expanding and becoming rigid under my sock and gator. I needed to move although it would do no good.
I pushed myself back out into the freezing rain with the trail now a sluggish mess of sandy mush and invisible puddles in the dark. With every step my nerves sent an unpleasant message to my brain. As if it were saying "If you take another step I can promise you are not going to like it". Oh yeah! Well fuck you I screamed back and I began to run. Only to be laughed at hysterically by my body which as it quietly suggested I should just lie down in the mud and quit. Of course I did not lay down but it did seem inviting on several occasions.
Several kind runners and pacers stopped to see if I was ok or needed anything during the next couple of hours, and that is what was so frustrating. I was walking as if I was catatonic, but I was not. I was lucid, just unable to move forward with much purpose. The effort was everything to me, the appearance was weak.
When I arrived at the next aid station now 4 miles after the last I asked for the time and was told it was 3:30. It took me 4 hours to travel 7 miles and with each step I was moving slower, with greater effort and an increased awareness of the pain. I sat again as planned only this time I knew I needed to sit for a while to see how I would feel over the next hour or so and try to make a rational, safe and smart decisions. They had a truck leaving about 20 minutes later and I declined this invite. People came and went over the next couple of hours. I was jealous, envious and angry. How and why was this happening to me. All I wanted was to keep going and finish. As I sat, my leg continued to swell and change color and I knew continuing on was not the smart choice for me. Self pitty now showed up as my hopes of finishing were now stolen from me (by my choice of course). As I barely made it to the truck under my own power, about 30 feet my fear of failure became reality.
So that's it. Now what? What will my children think? What will my wife think? My family, friends, co-workers and all the others who have supported me, what would they think? At that moment I was not sure but I cared, a lot. At that moment I felt I had failed.
Now a couple of days later I have had time to think about it. Not justify but think and decipher. So I asked myself, what is failure? The dictionary says "lack of success". What is success? The dictionary says "the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors."
Many would say this was a failure because I did not complete the race. If that is your definition you are correct. Others would say I showed up and gave 100% and that is success. You too would be correct by your definition.
Well in my eyes this endeavor ended with prosperity and favor. My family, friends and supporters have shown me that they are with me no matter what choices I made and are behind me 100%. Not just for the purpose of running and completing miles, but for what it means to so many of us who want to push limits, do more, find cures and live it like it's your last. So thanks to you all for everything.
With that, no matter what you do give all you got. By the way, I am still not over it but some day:)
|Just in case you wanted to see it! Guess which one was angry.|