>I had to write a report on “lessons learned” for work the other day and I figured it makes a good topic for a post-race reflection/wrap-up as well. Here are the top 4 take-aways from Syllamo that I came up with:
1. Slow and steady wins the race. And by wins the race, I mean gets 2nd. Haha. Steve posted results last night to here. I was solidly in 2nd place for the stage race of the females (Go Ashley who won the stage race OVERALL! Woopwoop) and 5th place for male and female (it appears that I’m 4th, but there’s a mistake….Travis Stiles should be listed in the men’s stage race, and he was ahead of me at both races) Anyway, this is exactly where I would want to end up at this race, at the peak of my racing season. The fact that this was my first race of the year, after 2 months of snowy weather, road/treadmill running, and 20 degree temps, is awesome. Going out slow and getting back to basics proves to get the job done. Work hard on the downhills and the flats; don’t overdo it on the climbs. Eat right; drink often. These mottos got me through 82 miles of racing efficiently and allowed me to stay strong.
2. Safety first. We all know I hate danger, but this race proves that I am somewhat justified in my worries! I don’t think I will ever go on another long run by myself without telling multiple people my route, and carrying a simple ziplock with matches and some other survival items. Also, it makes me realize that the “uncomfortableness” of tying a shirt around your waist is worth it; when it gets cold and I have it with me, it can make world of a difference. This sport comes with it’s risks – and giving up comfort when neccessary for the sake of being prepared is worth it.
3. I f-ing love America. It’s that simple. I just love our country, I love exploring it, I love running through the nooks and crannies of the mountains and the woods. I have very little desire to go abroad and race there until I have had the chance to run all over the US. I honestly just think our country has so many unique places and unique people, and until I appreciate all of that, I just don’t see a reason to go elsewhere.
4. I have chosen a sport that allows me to be a part of a very special group of people. I have known this before, but Syllamo really helped me gain another perspective on it. Ultrarunners (generally) are not out there running for Team In Training. We don’t say “raise money for ___ disease….sponsor me to go run an ultramarathon!” And nothing against those who do that, its just usually not what we’re out there for.
We’re out there because we know that when you run >26.2 you have no choice but to learn something about yourself each and every time. Many times it forces you to realize that you are not the center of the universe, that there are things greater than yourself (and greater than running/training), things out of your control, and teaches you to think quickly, be prepared, and maintain a positive outlook. For us, it doesn’t have have to be about getting people to donate money for every mile we run. Most of the people I meet who run these races don’t do it for charity – yet are some of the most charitable and humble people I know outside of the race. Ultrarunning gives us the perspective on life that we need in order to be better people each and every day, it’s not the thing that we use to show others that we are good people.
But most of all, I have found that ultrarunners are some of the friendliest and selfless people I know. They are willing to make conversation with strangers for hours on end. They will give you food and water, even when they’re low on it for themselves. They will cancel their race in a heartbeat to go help out in the search for a lost runner. It is impossible to really describe the camaraderie that comes with this sport, but it’s there. (Read this report here for more of the same feelings) These people are what will keep me involved in this sport long after my chances of winning a race are gone, and even long after my racing days at any pace are gone. If I can’t run, you better believe I’ll run a kick ass aid station. And hopefully one day maybe I’ll direct my own race. I look around, and I can’t think of a better group of people to surround myself with as I try to be more like them each and every day.