Have you ever been in the middle of a race where you have felt unprepared, frustrated, afraid and on the brink of tears? Been there done that on a 150k 3 days staged race I did recently. Welcome to the the Bad Beaver Ultra race. Never have I thought of going through this roller-coaster of emotions but it happened. I registered with only two weeks to go before the race. I did it, I finished strong and had a great time overall. The interesting part is that curiously, marathons frighten me and that’s why I have not done any marathons except for the one during Ironman Lake Placid, back in 2014.
That fear of hitting the wall was there and still is. So, why do this with no real preparation? What motivated me to do this? You can blame my father (and thanks dad!). He planted the seed that I could do this and position well. What made that seed grow is my environment. They perceived me as a strong runner. The conclusion was that I was going to regret not doing this race more than doing it with the idea that I was allowed to quit. Everyone who knows me is aware that I do not quit races.
I ended up getting top position in women. I wish I could say that I stayed strong during the whole race but that would be lying. I fell apart both mentally and physically so many times! I still had trouble believing that I was doing this crazy business as I started running with a back pack nonetheless (filled with clothing, food, water and a sleeping bag) and was full of self-doubt, negative self-talk and so on.
I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself so, doubting that I could do this, the fear of falling on the technical parts of the race and the thought of quitting was very present in my mind throughout the first two days of the race. Covering that sort of distance is really hard on a body let alone you stressing about it.
It is important to recognize this sort of behaviour and work on breaking the pattern. With proper training and mental preparation, that negative self-talk will dissipate. I find that having a support crew is very beneficial for you and so is having the right tools. That community feeling where everyone cared for each other, that we were a team, made such a difference. It helped me change my focus in a very positive way.
Visualization with a combination of breathing exercises has also been very successful tools for me in the past. I may be using those tools in the near future just as well. There is this app called coherence heart trainer that helps with the breathing and visualization. I find it has helped me with mental preparation in the past.
Day 2 of the race, 70k of running was a close call to quit. ” 90 percent of it is mental and the other 10% is in your head” (Ray Zahab) right? My fears were controlling me on a lot of the technical parts of the trail. I would even sit down and slide down the rocks because I was afraid and thought my legs would give out on me. Day three was the best day, almost forgot about the pain.
Doing this race definitely got me out of my comfort zone and has allowed me to grow as a person. Isn’t it what life is all about? Would I ever have done this in my life without my dad wanting me to do this? No, absolutely not! Am I happy I have done this? Yes, absolutely! Has this event changed me as a person? Totally! I never thought that I would be interested in venturing to the world of ultra races but now that I have, my focus may change.
On a personal level, do you feel that something is missing ? I would not advise you to try and do an ultra race out on a whim but I would advise you to consider trying something new. Who knows, you might like it (or you might not). Let this be your wakeup call and go try something new!