“If you’re going to face a real challenge, it has to be a REAL challenge. You can’t accomplish anything without the possibility of failure.
– Lazarus Lake, RD of the Barkley Marathons.
For so long I thought that failure was the enemy instead of realizing that it’s what provides meaning on the other end of success. It’s the experience I am always trying to avoid but its presence is needed. Just like without death, life loses some of its urgency, its value.
Instead of avoiding failure, I want to be focusing on:
I may return to you next week to report I didn’t complete 100k, 24 hours or both.
The questions I am learning to entertain instead of “did you succeed or fail” are:
What did I learn?
How have I grown thanks to this experience?
How can daring to make the attempt ever be failure?
For years I have been dogged by the typical running questions:
Did you run the whole thing?
Did you walk?
How long did it take you?
Did you finish?
All perfectly fine questions but all have intrinsically narrow parameters on what’s acceptable.
And I have let myself get caught in that narrow space, sometimes trapped, sometimes just succumbing to others’ definitions.
But I want my running adventures to be more about self-discovery and less about the ego and whether I can do it.
If I only sign up for the things I am confident I can complete am I really pushing myself? As Lazarus Lake says “You can’t accomplish anything without the possibility of failure.”
Pushing yourself to the brink, looking over the edge of your perceived limits sounds crazy and awe-inspiring at the same time.
What happens to you on the other side?
I want to find out. I want to be more disturbed by not trying than not making it to the finish.
I want to believe.
I want to believe in the power of nature, a beautiful day, the sheer force of will, believe in the synergy of being together with others who are having their own battle out there with you, I believe in the experience wherever it takes you.
I want to believe in the ability to touch greatness for just a moment. I envision completing 24 hours is like being able to “kiss the sky.” And it’s magnetic and it draws you in while it also scares the hell out of you.
What makes completion so sweet isn’t winning, because most of us will never savor that nectar, but it’s the whole thing. Crossing the finish line without the story between the start and finish would be empty.
In fact, the race begins long before the starting line. It begins with the idea. The signing on the dotted line and paying for the chance to enter your life.
I don’t believe ultra running is the only door to these kinds of experiences.
It’s just my door.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,