I enjoy learning. Whether it be a new skill or factoid, it makes my brain feel bigger by knowing more.
The interesting thing about running a hundred miles is that you always learn something. Sometimes a lot of things.
The best part of it is that you aren't learning about some boring topic. You are learning about yourself. What could be more interesting to you than you?
This will be my fifth consecutive running of the Leadville Trail 100. In the recent podcast, Gary noted that I am in a relationship with this race where "I just cannot quit you". Pretty true. Probably because I keep learning each time.
Learning a new skill is one thing and brings about a freshness in your mind. But really honing in on something. Preparing for it year after year. Brings some sort of focus when you really direct yourself.
So I was reflecting on what I had actually learned in these prior attempts. Checking myself to see if it really was beneficial. Each year I surely learned some technical lessons about what shoes to wear or whatever. But those are not the point today.
In 2010, I learned Confidence. Moving from a 50 mile distance to 100 mile distance is hard but its possible. Take that from a guy that ran his first half marathon ever 5 years prior. Anything is possible.
In 2011, I learned Humility. This didn't happen on race day. It happened after. Your first DNF is an exhausting process. Its truly easier to finish the race -- given the choice. But when you talk a big game and you aim high, you crash hard when you don't reach the goal.
In 2012, I learned Fortitude. No matter what the pain is, there is a way through it. Find a rhythm that works and keep on grinding it out. Its not going to be the thrilling accomplishment you hoped it would be, but just getting the job done is what matters. And its all anybody remembers.
In 2013, I learned Respect. Respect for my body. Respect for the distance. Respect for the race. I thought I could cruise it based on a bad set of assumptions. I had things I had not dealt with and I hoped that would just be different on race day. Lady Luck wasn't on my side.
So with less than a week to go until that gun goes off, I wonder what lesson I will learn this year. Its no fun to repeat the same class in school. But if I had one elective to choose from the curriculum offered, it would be Patience.
I have been working year after year to master my low points.
Its finally time for this race to come to me -- because I have come to it enough times. But if it does not, I have prior lessons to review.