The past couple months have been some of the toughest couple months I’ve had in awhile mentally. There is a great endurance athlete and Navy Seal, David Goggins, who summed up ultra endurance events and training (More on David Goggins in a future blog). He said something along the lines that in these incredibly long races you are going to hit a wall. It’s not a matter of if, but when. When you hit that wall, you have to keep feeling along it until you find a door. You have to choose if you are going to search for that door. Once you find it you can go through and continue. In an ultra event, you are going to approach several walls.
The struggle I’ve had is pushing my body in training week after week to find those doors once I hit the wall. Up until this recent training, I had never run further than a marathon (26.2 miles). I had only done that twice: once during the Jacksonville Marathon in 2009 and once in Ironman Louisville a year ago. Now I’ve run over that distance 4 times in the last 5 weeks. Not only have I struggled in the training, but I’ve had a hard time in between training. I’m not sure if it’s my body’s way of preparing myself for a 24 hour event, but I’ve had extreme difficulty sleeping. I’ll go to bed at 11 PM, wake up at 3 AM, and just stay up. 5 hours of sleep is becoming a good nights rest.
During my longer awake hours and my many hours on the road, I think about a lot of things and people. I think about the kids I’ve met that have been through so much. They help me find the door to get past that wall 9 times out of 10. I always tell myself that I have a choice to do what I’m doing right now. At any time, I have the option to stop. These little guys were born with heart defects. They don’t have the choice to not go through surgery or pain. Specifically one little guy from Colorado has been helping me lately. He had a heart transplant and not too long after he broke his arm. His pain tolerance was so high from going through everything previously that he didn’t even complain about his broken arm. In other words, the pain I experience during my training is nothing.
I know the 24 hour race in Philly is going to be one of the toughest things I’ve ever done, but I’m confident I can break 100 miles.
For this race I’m raising money for the Adult Congenital Heart Association. All of those born with Congenital Heart Defects will need some sort of support after they hit 18, and ACHA does a great job with this. They help fund CHD research and advocate. They provide education through their webinars, website, blogs, and National Conference. They also provide peer support through ACHA Ambassadors and an online forum.
Since 1 in 100 is born with a heart defect, I’m trying to get each of my 100 miles sponsored at $10 per mile. If you would like to help, please donate to ACHA through the "Donate" in the upper right box.
By donating, you will be helping me get phrases out of my head, such as “this is stupid” and “why am I doing this”. Raising awareness is a great side affect, but I’m doing this to raise money for the work that ACHA is doing.
Thanks for all of your support! Nels