My First Ultra Marathon (Attempt): Can this be any different?

I’ve failed a lot.

I’ve often thrashed my goals with the whip of laziness; while hanging my ego out to dry.

So, can this be any different?

Last night, my sprained knee and the pains from adjusting my stride told me to fail. They throbbed my leg and nipped at the cell phone in my pocket like two belligerent, drunks pleading for their phone call. Only in this case it’d have been a call to my wife, “Honey, can you come get me off the side of the road?”

Two hours earlier, we had pressed our running boundaries and headed off on a run to the city, 4.5 miles away with a large hill, just short of being a ridge, sitting in between. I’d been nursing some bruises on the bottom of my heel for two weeks and had only ran six miles in 14 days. I felt good and wanted to give the challenge a shot.

Running to town is an out-and-back run and the first half was great. No pains, no side-stitches, and only one dog threatened to eat us. We stopped in town, relished our victory, and drank coconut water and (regular) water on a park bench before heading back.

One mile into the return trip, my twelve-year-old son slides into the darkness halfway up Patterson Hill. Unfortunately, he had tried out for the all-stars basketball team only hours before, but insisted on plodding along with me.
At mile 7, my son bowed deep under the handles of his trekking poles and said, “Dad, if this was a race, you’d win tonight.” Considering he has placed in his age group for 5ks, it was a serious complement for my brittle ego; the elation wouldn’t last long, though. It’s funny how confidence works, one moment you’re on top of the world, running without the slightest pain, and the next mile a minor twisted knee injury from two nights before awakens and ravishes your confidence to shreds. 3 minutes later, I too, would cling hard to my trekking poles, skipping like a kangaroo caught in a bear trap. It was a long grueling mile and a half home with lots of grunting, limping, and Joe Pesci “under-the-breath cursing” (fortunately, I carry a portable speaker!).

So, with seven months of grueling workouts ahead of me, I shall ask myself the question once more.

Can this race be any different?

We’ll see.

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