TL;DR Had pneumonia. Ran a fun race. Starting new job. Am fat.
I think most people tend to doubt themselves and their abilities. I am certainly someone who suffers from intense self-doubt. I try to mitigate my doubt by being as prepared as possible for whatever is causing me doubts or fears. However, many times, I let my doubts consume and dominate my thoughts. This is a post about me overcoming some of my recent doubts and also about some of the things that are still causing me anxiety.
It was a few weeks back when I started feeling a pain each time I would inhale deeply. I thought that maybe I had injured my ribs, but I didn’t pay it too much attention. Over the coming days, the pain would get worse, and began to occur on each, regular, breath. It took some prodding from Kelsey, but I went to urgent care and found out that I had walking pneumonia. The doctor told me to rest. This was the last thing I wanted to hear.
My training plan for my 50 miler was already pretty tight. Having to take almost a week off of training seemed like a death sentence for my hopes of completing a 50 miler. I had planned on running the Red Hot 33k for a month, but I was debating not running it. The longest run I was able to complete post-pneumonia was 10 miles. It did nothing to help my confidence going into the race.
My plan had always been to treat Red Hot like a long training run. A good way to get some valuable experience in a race environment. I decided to give the race a shot, and just try to finish. I was able to put together 7, 5, and 7 mile runs on the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday before the race. This helped me feel like I had a shot of at least finishing the 33k.
The day before
The start of our road trip to Moab was a bit rocky. Our friends were going to watch Bailey for us. When we dropped him off, he was really excited and was wagging his tail like crazy and it hit something and started bleeding again. We left fearing the worst about what we’d have to do to his tail when we got home. Luckily, soon after, our friend let us know that his tail had stopped bleeding. We hoped that he would be ok the rest of the weekend (and he was).
We arrived in Moab, checked into our hotel, and walked over to packet pickup. We picked up my bib and all the race goodies, including a sweet hat and shirt.
We then met our friends, David and Brooke, for a pasta dinner. All too soon it was back to the hotel room for my night-before-race freak out. All my doubts and fears flooded into me. Could I really run 20 miles? How would my legs handle the climbing? How would my lungs hold up?
I had also forgotten my long-sleeved shirt that I was planning on wearing. I was beyond nervous when I went to sleep.
We woke up at 6:30am, 2 hours before the race started. I got a small breakfast of granola and a few pretzels in, put on my race clothes, and got my race pack assembled. The drive out was only about 15 minutes, but then we had to walk almost a mile to the start line. We found Brooke and David and listened to the pre-race instructions from the race director. My favorite line was about how we should try not to get hurt between aid stations 2 and 3 because it was so remote that we’d have to be helicoptered out. That made me feel a bit nervous.
Brooke was a lifesaver, and had an extra pair of arm warmers that she let me have. We took a few pictures, and then it was time to begin the race.
I tried to make it a point to be conservative all day, and I mostly did a good job of keeping an easy pace. The first mile was a big climb, which helped me be conservative. After the first mile I did have 3 miles below 8:30 pace, which I realized was probably a bit too quick, so I backed off. It is always a bit disheartening to have to dial things back and see a lot of people pass you. But I just had to keep reminding myself to run my own race. I am preparing for a 50 miler, not trying to get a PR on a 33k.
This was the first chance I had to run on the slick rock in Moab. It was crazy. It was really rough on my body. There were times going downhill that you’d have to jump down 5 or 6 feet. It was also really crazy that for a lot of the race, there was not a defined trail. You would run to a pink flag, then you’d scan for the next pink flag and run to it. There was one time that I almost went off-course, but luckily another runner yelled at me that the flag was to the left and not the right.
There were also a few really steep ascents and descents. Including a ridiculous snowy climb.
I decided to use my race pack for this, instead of just using a handheld water bottle. I figured that it would be better to replicate the situation of my 50 miler, in which I will definitely be using a pack. I filled up a little bit at the 3rd, and final, aid station, just to be safe. But I probably could have done the whole race with just the 2 liters in my bladder.
My legs felt a little heavy, but they were better than I expected. I had a few blisters and hot spots on my feet. They weren’t as bad as the blisters I got during the Antelope Island 50k, but they still caused some pain during each foot strike, especailly towards the later miles.
During the race, there were also times that I had some niggles. My left hamstring got a little tight during the first few miles. This has been a problem since last summer, but it usually resolves itself after a few miles. I also tweaked my left achilles. This was due to leaning left so much when ascending and descending, it just stretched it out a bit more than I was used to. This was only painful for a few miles. Towards the end of the race, my right knee also got tweaked from all the jumping off rocks that I had done. This was the most painful of all my problems during the race. But, again, it worked itself out after a few miles.
I am happy that I was able to overcome all these little injuries. I didn’t overreact, I acknowledged the pain and was able to put it out of my mind until it went away. I know that I will deal with a lot of problems during my 50 miler, so this was good practice to not let small problems derail me.
I was able to finish in 3:48:01. Not a blazing time, solidly middle of the pack. I was 148 out of 371 finishers.
I learned a lot of doing this race. I was able to face the fear and doubt of coming back from pneumonia and still have a decent showing. I was able to get more experience in a trail race setting. Above all, I was able to enjoy myself in a wonderful setting and I was able to share the moment with family and friends.
Although I was able to have a good run. I still wonder if I can finish a 50 miler. It is so far beyond anything I would have ever thought possible that I don’t know if I’ll ever think it’s possible, until I finish one. But I am feeling a little bit better about my chances after finishing the Red Hot.
The next race up is the Rex Lee Run 10k. This means I need to start working on my speed. A road 10k is a whole different animal from an ultra trail race. The week after Rex Lee, is the Buffalo Run 50k. This race takes place out on Antelope Island, but is a different course than the 50k I did in October. This will be a great tune-up/training race for my 50 miler.
I am worried about both of these upcoming races. I have started back in on my training, and hope that by preparing I can lessen the internal doubts.
I am also starting a new job next week. I am very nervous. Am I making a mistake? Am I smart enough to succeed? Am I feel underqualified for this job? I doubt that I have the skills or aptitude to be successful. I don’t know that there is much I can do to lessen these fears, other than work as hard as possible once I begin and maybe increase our emergency fund in case I get fired.
One of my biggest sources of doubt and anxiety recently has been about my weight and physique. I feel so overweight and out-of-shape. I am currently just over 170 lbs, but I would love to be 155 lbs. I am starting to think that I have a case of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). I worry almost constantly about my weight and my appearance. My wife and my sister have both been trying to get me to go to a counselor for months now. I think I’m finally seeing that I probably need to, although it is the last thing I want to do. If distance running has taught me anything, it is that growth is often painful and that comfort often follows discomfort. Will I ever learn to be happy with my body? The answer is the same answer to the question of whether I’ll ever be able to run a 100 mile race. I’m not sure, but I can take steps to try.