Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Out of the ashes

For years and years I've wanted a tattoo. I could just never really decide what I wanted. Once I started running I decided I wanted something running related. I picked out some designs I liked and kind of went back and forth on what exactly I wanted. I told myself after I finished my first ultra I would get one. Well, I finished the FlatRock 50k, but honestly, I kind of faked that one. It didn't feel real. I finished it, but I could have done better. I didn't train like I should have and my performance was awful. I didn't get the tattoo. I kept thinking about it and finally decided after I did my 50 mile I was doing it. I was happy with my training so I knew if I had a good race this was the time to do it.

Training for long races takes a lot of time. After accomplishing the goal of these races many people do different things. Many, including myself, write race reports. One friend has been working on a leg sleeve creating a lasting memory of his first marathon and ultras of each distance. After talking with him and my brother some I decided a tattoo to mark the accomplishment of my goal and the journey leading up to it was what I wanted to do. I was talking with Justin and telling him I wasn't sure what I wanted. He thought a minute, sent me a picture, and told me this, "During the course of your training your running and your mental aspect of training was not where it should've been and it was only accentuated by the negative response from a fellow runner. You were torn down and basically broken at the end of the Hawk when your friends picked you up, dusted you off, and helped you rise out of the ashes with a revitalized view of your goals and mission toward your 50, and your off-season training."

The idea of the phoenix tattoo was born. As soon as I saw the picture he sent I knew that's what I was getting. I had never found a design I liked and as soon as I saw this I just knew it was right. Like the phoenix, I felt like I had risen from the ashes to be reborn into a completely different runner and even person in the last 6 weeks before Prairie Spirit.

The first thing that happened that changed how I felt about running and myself was FlatRock. If you read my blog about that race you know that I finished with 52 seconds to spare, but could not have been happier. I learned that I need to just go out and do my own thing and find my own happy. It doesn't matter if I finish first (can't even type that without laughing out loud!) or last. Finishing is what matters and making myself happy is the most important thing I can do when running. Two weeks after FlatRock I paced and crewed at Heartland. Just seeing these amazing runners accomplishing their goals was awesome. I learned so much. Then in the middle of the night when all I wanted to do was curl up in a warm car and go to sleep after already being up for hours crewing and pacing, I started pacing again. I proved to myself that I could keep going even when I really just wanted to stop and sleep. It was so inspiring to see Adam dig deep and continue moving through significant pain and exhaustion. It showed me that I'm capable of so much more than I ever thought. I just need to push myself more and stop being such a wimp.

Two weeks after that I ran 50 miles. I've already told that story, so no need to tell it again. I couldn't have been happier with how that day turned out. I had completely changed my attitude about my running by then. I never got down on myself about how horrible I was and never asked myself why I was doing this. I knew why I was doing it. I knew I wasn't horrible. I finally had confidence. I think I had to be completely broken down like I was at Hawk so I could build myself back up (with the help of my friends) to become a better person. The phoenix is the perfect symbol of what happened to me. The old me died and a new, stronger me was born.

The symbolism of the phoenix can apply to many different life situations, not just running. I could go on and on about what it means to me, but this is a blog about my running, so I will leave it there. Thanks to Justin who helped me with the design and also with explaining the way I felt about it.

Pic. It's not 100% healed just yet

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