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

I’ve failed a lot.

I’ve often thrashed my goals with a 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, the call would have been to my wife, “Honey, can you come bail me off side of the road?”

Two hours earlier, we had pressed our running boundaries, jogged out the door into the night, heading off  to the city, 4.5 miles away with a large hill, just short of being a ridge, standing in our way. 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.

The first half of our journey 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 on a park bench before heading back.

One mile into the return trip, my twelve-year-old son slides into the darkness halfway up the infamous Patterson Hill. Unfortunately, he had also tried out for the all-stars basketball team only hours before, but insisted on plodding along with me.
At mile 7, he bowed his shoulders 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 5k (3.1 mile) distance races, it was a serious complement for my brittle ego; my elation wouldn’t last.

It’s funny how confidence works, one moment you’re on top of the world, or in this case a large hill, running without the slightest pain, and one mile later, 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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