When “Failure Is Not A Possibility” but “Success Is Not An Option”…

How does that affect your race. How does that affect your motivation.

When I started running three years ago, I had a pretty good idea what my physical limits were. I should be able to complete a 5k, and I might be able to muddle through a 10k. But a Half Marathon was something that only “real” runners could complete. I could “never” do that.

Well, I could, and I did. I have done it 21 times (so far)…

Ever since then, I have wondered where my physical limits would be found. Whenever I thought that I have pushed myself to the brink, I found more reserve in the tank. I still don’t know where my limits really are.

I think that I am about to find out.

There is one thing that I wanted to add to my running resume. I wanted to complete an ultramarathon. I consider that to be at least 50k (31 miles). Looking at the ultras around here, all were longer, trail runs with limited support. That isn’t what I had in mind. I came across the FANS 24 hour run. It is multiple loops around a small lake. Each lap is 2.1 miles with two aid stations. Your “finish distance” is the total that you completed in 24 hours (whether or not you were there the whole time). You can leave anytime. I figured that this would be perfect. I would have no time limit (I literally have all day and all night), and lots of support. If I logged my 50k in five hours, I could pack my things and go home. Alternatively, I could try to sqweak out a little more if I felt up to it. Either way, I would have an automatic PR at the 50k.

Now that I am signed up, and it is almost upon me, I wonder what my strategy will be.

I cannot technically “fail” as there is no DNF in this race. If I run 10 feet, then that is my finish distance. Of course, anything under 50k would be a disappointment…but that is all but impossible (unless I get injured).

I also cannot fully “succeed”. To finish this event would be to run/walk the entire 24 hours. That greatly exceeds my training. My longest run is about six hours. My longest event was just under 16 hours (most of that time was cycling), and I was much better trained at that point.

No, I will not be there when the event officially ends. So, it will be the first time I have ever left in the middle of a race. In a very real way, that is a failure. I will leave when I can’t do it anymore. I will leave when I find the limit of my endurance.

Will this just get me to throw in the towel at 50k? Or will this push me to keep going a little further since I will hate to admit defeat. I have calculated the number of laps needed for multiple milestones past 50k. I know I will never do this again, so will that push me towards successive milestones? 75k? 50 miles? Double Marathon (52.4 miles)? 100k (62 miles)? 75 miles? Maybe…

At some point I will have scream uncle and walk away with the event still going. It will be my first failure. It may also be my greatest success…



Filed under Random Musings

7 responses to “When “Failure Is Not A Possibility” but “Success Is Not An Option”…

  1. Have a fun this weekend! Walking away, even while the race is still going on will be a success…definitely NOT failure 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I guess it isn’t that much different then leaving a marathon after crossing the finish line even though the race is still going on. I am just not used to defining my own finish line…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ummmmmmm…..24 hour events don’t work that way……you ARE NOT leaving in the middle of the race…..even IF you were there at the 24th hour, you would ONLY be there for each person’s individual races ‘finish’……I know, clear as mud lol.

    Let’s put it this way: the race is ACTUALLY 200 races (or however many entrants there are), and each one is ‘finished’ when the runner is. Most timed events have an awards thingy a couple of hours after the event is over, where places in the timed events and the most miles are given plaques etc.

    BUT that being said, IF you have ANY chance to come BACK and watch the last few finish I HIGHLY recommend it…….these peeps are generally gutting it out to meet a certain distance goal in that 24 hours, and there really and truly is NOTHING else like it on the planet to witness. I suggest coming and volunteering for a couple of hours before the 24 hours is over too. I mean, seriously do that! Come watch the end!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Elizabeth! It is just a wierd concept for me. I am used to being done when the race tells me that I am done. Leaving in the middle (even if I have achieved my goal) will just feel not quite right. I doubt that I will be back at the end unless I never leave. It’s a two hour drive to the race venue (each way). I imagine it is similar to the final hour of an Ironman in a way…which was a beautiful and powerful experience! The overnight weather is looking awful. Rain likely and thunderstorms possible. Gravel walking path in the dark and the rain sounds like a great way to get injured. But the Saturday morning/early afternoon looks dry (but warm and muggy). Every weather report has a different forecast. I will be packing multiple changes of clothing, including some rain gear and head lamp. Should be an interesting experience…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I would second the comment above. Finish your 50k, rest up a bit, and see if you can help others out. If your legs aren’t trashed, maybe walk with someone struggling through a part of the race. I would not suggest running farther than you think you have time to recover from. My first 50 miler took three full weeks to recover from. Of course this depends on your race schedule for the year.

    Have a great race, I look forward to the report.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have no events for a month after this one. The next event if a Half Marathon on July 4th, which is a filler event that I could skip if I had to. I actually need to start triathlon training after this race. I have 4 triathlons and one dualthlon in July/August (all sprints) and have not been out on the bike or in the pool all year. I will be cutting back on my run volumes briefly but ramping back up during tri-season for my three October Marathons (which will be my last marathons in the forseeable future…getting burnt out on the long distance stuff). 2016 will be marathon free and will focus on sprint triathlons, and 5k-HM events. If I get the urge to run a marathon again after the break, I would likely look to a fall 2017 event (Chicago, New York, MCM, or Disney…leaning towards Disney since 2018 will be the 25th anniversary race). So, this is my one shot at an ultra. Minimum of 50k, but would love to stretch it out to 50 miles (or even 100k) if my legs hold out…event if I am walking most of it. I will have to see how my legs are holding up and what the weather is doing. Thanks for the support!


      • Awesome. My unsolicited advice would be, since time isn’t an issue, start slow and walk often. Your legs will be in much better shape after. Sounds like the few weeks after this race would be a great time to get back in the pool.

        Best of luck. I’m looking forward to your very entertaining report.

        Liked by 1 person

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