100 Miles: The Aftermath

Everyone likes to talk about overcoming and pushing through to achieve a milestone, a goal, a destination, or the like.  It's an achievement to be celebrated.  Overcoming all the obstacles.

It's a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.  Perfect for parties.  Over a drink.  Tall tale at the office.  And many times you have the hardware, the scare, the medal, or in the case of ultras greater than 100K, there's a buckle.

But what comes next?

The dreaded emotional roller coaster ride unlike any ride you'll experience during the actual run.  I'm in the midst of that fight.  Right now and wanted to write about it.  To share.  To expose what many in the ultra community have experienced, but seldom is there an article or an in dept story about the aftermath.

Mainly because the mental seesaw is so hard to explain.  So difficult to put into words.

It is said that ultras can be addictive.  You quickly forget about the physical pain and discomfort because you seek that moment, you're sitting in the tent among your crew at your very bottom.  You know you're going to finish but your body is so exhausted.  Your mind has had to push through wall after wall after wall to get you where you are.

No real sleep for over 30 plus hours.  You're spent.  And in an instant.  A flash.  The will comes from deep within and shoots through you like a rocket.

You mouth verbalize the shout from the depths of your soul "Let's get it done".   And like that, you're on your feet.  You're pushing hard.  You're warming your body up.  And before you know it, you're running.  Your body is reacting to this proclamation before long as if the previous 99 miles didn't exist.

You hold a little back for the final quarter mile up hill, and the jets are on full blast!

That moment has happened to me in some form or another at all my distances over 100K.  In Daytona it happened on the beach, again at mile 98.  At Javelina JundredK at mile 54 after chugging coke and going through a moment of not being able to understand the english language coherently.

And it is this moment that sends your mind spiraling into the ground of reality days later.

You can think straight.  It's not a darkness.  It's not a depression.  It's something else.  You know you're different.  Something changed.  Something has happened and it's not the physical feat your mind is trying to wrap itself around, it's that moment.

You miss it.  You also fear it.

A paradox.  Getting back into the groove helps but it doesn't make it go away.  It doesn't make your soul ache.  You don't loose your appetite.  But there's something inside that has altered.

The physical aftermath gets you to thinking, how you could have trained better?  What went right?  What where the challenges?  What can be done to overcome those challenges?  Where did you loose moments where you could have possibly pushed harder and still succeeded?

Do I want to do that again?

The mental aftermath...

As I sit here and watch the cursor flash I realize I have possibly not achieved the goal I set out to explain what is going on inside adequately.  I'm not depressed, but I am different.

Just know when you push your mind through the distance of long ultras you will come out on the other side of the aftermath different.  You won't be able to explain it to anyone.  You wont be able to put it into words.  The effect will last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before you feel "normal" again.

Just know when you do find yourself on the other side in the mental aftermath, you're not alone.  You're not loosing your mind.  You will feel normal again, just maybe not today and that's okay.

Go for a run and let your emotions swing wildly.  And don't freak out if you find yourself laughing to yourself, singing aloud, or even shedding a tear for no damned reason.  ...wait, I do these things normally anyway 😁

Hope you enjoyed me rambling for a few.  Be good. 

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