This post is for my brother, Joe, who needs something to read. Or some "inspiration", as he puts it. He is beginning the wild journey of ultra marathon training and is going for the big one out of the gate. He has set his sights on running the Burning River 100 in 2015. He's kind of starting at ground zero. In fact, I think he's starting underground. Yikes! Actually, to his credit, he isn't starting, he did that over a month ago. He's continuing and I believe he is absolutely going to pull it off.
First, however, he has to stop smoking. Seriously, Joe. Exactly how much do you think your poor lungs can take when you are asking so much of them and then pouring poison into them simultaneously? If you want your body to perform, you have to take care of it. It can only do so much. And it can do A-MAZING things, but only with consistent and constant care. You are a smart man. You know that. So quit it already. If you already quit, that's awesome and sorry for the public thrashing. Also, no more McDonald's, Wendy's, Taco Bell, Skyline, etc… Well, occasionally is fine, but not all the time. And Mt. Dew, if you are still drinking that nastiness… yuck. You can have it during the race, but knock it off from now until then. Instead, eat well, brother. LOTS of omega 3s because they help a lot with inflammation of all those soft tissues that take a beating during training, which will be an absolute with all those impending back to back long runs. If you don't know what foods have them, here are a few… eggs, flax seeds, walnuts, pasteur raised meats (grass fed stuff), beans (especially kidney!), salmon. And the list goes on. You can now even buy omega 3 enriched organic milk. And don't say it's too expensive if you are still smoking. Don't even do that with me. So there is a crash course in running nutrition. A basic stripped down version, as there is an overwhelming amount of information out there. This WILL be a big factor in your success or failure at attempting this. Make no mistake, what you eat matters!
Now, back to this post. The title is actually the title of a song that Joe sent me a couple of weeks ago. It's on his running playlist and it is normally not my style of music, but it's really a good song with a catchy tune. But it's the message that Pete Townshend, the singer, is trying to get across that has been unbelievably inspirational to me these past few weeks. So thank you, Joe, for sending it.
Anyone who has ever trained hard to run a race knows the term "dig deep". It means to search within for a source of strength that can carry us to the finish. It is especially important to do this toward the end of a race or work out when physical energy seems all but gone. For some it is the memory of a loved one that provides strength. There are thousands of reasons people find that mysterious, untapped source at the end of a race or hard training session. It is very personal and different for each of us. A very powerful image for me is that of Christ carrying his cross up Calvary Mountain. If you have seen The Passion, you remember him falling and using every last bit of strength to get up. His inspiration for continuing on to his death, was us. His inspiration to get to the top for the finish, was our salvation. Although no shiny medal or race t-shirt awaited him. He knew the ultimate prize, which far surpassed any post race chocolate milk and massage. I have revisited that image countless times in my head during different training cycles and even races (especially Burning River last year) and what a difference it makes! It slaps me back to the reality of how whatever it is I am doing at the moment pales in comparison. It gives me strength and cause to continue.
But one doesn't have to be training or racing to have the need to dig deep. Life in general requires that quite often. I am training to run the JFK 50 with one of my running group friends. This will be her first ultra distance event and she is going to be awesome. I'm not just saying that either. Seriously, I am beginning to think of all my excuses of why she beat me come race day in November. Sondra is an incredible runner. The annoying kind who seems to require no effort when doing 12 mile pace runs. She has brought me to a new and different level of running fitness… even after all these years of training for marathons and ultras. This is different. This has been an awesome combination of a new kind of strength training (tabata… look it up. Holy cow!), nutrition and running workouts that I both dread and love. I am probably close to my peak running fitness. It is wonderful.
It is also absolutely exhausting. Yes, I choose to do this. No one is making me. But DAMN, it's hard. Maybe that is the appeal. I am also moving and trying to raise kids, two of which are teenagers. Digging deep has taken on a whole new meaning for me. I have my two "littles", 8 and 11 year olds, who also need mom in a different way (funny how my "little" kids are not really so little anymore. I used to think 8 and 11 year olds were big kids… WAHHHH!). Then there are my 15 and 13 year olds, who are awesome. They are truly wonderful people who will one day make incredible adults. At least I keep telling myself that :) But I'm finding they are stupid. Teenagers are just stupid and you cannot tell them anything. They make stupid choices, do stupid things (like make their mom cry and keep her up at night worrying about stuff and forget that she is tired and training a lot and trying to friggin move!). They are also self centered and darn me for forgetting the world revolves around their schedules. And before I continue on, I have to stop and say, MOM… I am SOOOO sorry for my once stupid teenage self!
Yes, these days, digging deep has many meanings. In training, I dig deep to hang for a hard workout or finish up a very long run. In mothering, I dig deep to find God's voice guiding my words and my actions as they relate to my children. My own words are not good words. They are actually cuss words. So I need God in a way I never have to help me mother these very stupid children and turn them into smart adults. I need Him to also give me the words to soothe a wounded 13 year old girl, who's confidence and self esteem are shaken from careless and mean words of her peers, also stupid teenagers. I also need to dig deep to get myself out of my own self-centeredness when it comes to complaining about day to day life. Complaining about how stressful moving is (how blest we are!), complaining about my kids (how healthy are beautiful they are!), complaining about training exhaustion (how uninjured and running strong I am!).
Yes, God has given me a beautiful, full life. It's a shame that some days I have to dig deep to thank Him.
Here is the song I am referring to. I hope you can access it here. It's never easy to copy and paste from youtube on here.