It's All In My Head---Montour
It started at this race last year. I got hyponatremia, but worse I labeled myself as someone who “can’t run in the heat”. I pushed and foolishly switched from the 50 to the 100 in the next Beast. I finished 50. Well, that’s because “I can't run in the heat”. One of my favorite 100’s is C+O Canal. This year,it was freakishly hot, over 90 degrees in April. I only hit 75 miles. Well, what do you expect from someone who can't run in the heat. Next came Canal Corridor 100. Again it was hot, I made it to mile 83, because…”SHUT UP, EVA! You haven’t run well in the heat in a few races. You’ve done great in others. Do some research, figure out if there are things you can do differently. Don’t be afraid to make changes, and throw the friggin label out the window. You can't run well in the heat...YET!
I had to ditch the label. I had to open myself up to accepting I wasn’t doing something right. No matter how many races I’ve done, I could start at ground zero, and make a change. I had fallen into a trap of running too many races. I had down pat what I was “supposed” to do, but, I didn't always do it.
The thing is, I let much of my knowledge merge together without really focusing on individual elements of each race. I guess I figured I had gained enough experience to go at it a bit blindly. Honestly, I even stopped checking weather forecasts. Oh girl, you brought this on yourself.
In the beginning, I’d take a week to prep for a race. Now, I grab my race bag and figure it out on the drive there. And, somehow, I’m surprised when things don't work out. I ran that 83 miler without socks because I packed last minutes, and didn't check my gear the night before. Beating the hell out of my feet was a big catalyst for change. I had grown complacent...soft. This won’t do.
I needed to turn everything around and I needed it to start with how I talk to myself. I put myself on the Appalachian Trail at one end of NJ and didn’t stop until I got to the other. It was going to be hot (+90) every day and I gave myself one rule: you will only speak kind things to yourself.
It changed my focus. I hit obstacles, yes, but instead of finding fault, it forced me to assess and LISTEN to what I needed. When I removed the negative self talk from my situation, I could focus on what could, even incrementally, make my situation better, do it, and then, do it again. There really is no manual for this.
Fast forward to the Montour 24. Last year, I had hyponatremia and I stuck a self-imposed limitation that kept me from enjoying this sport. NOT this year. It was going to be hot...BRING IT, I’m ready! I wanted it hot. I was at the starting line depleted, hungry and tired from my hike. I didn’t care. I knew I would trust my body and it would tell me what I needed to do. Even more, come what may, my thoughts would remain positive. I told myself “you are a mf trail runner...go do what you love”. Throughout the race, other runners saddled up to me and wanted to lament about the heat. I didn’t want to hear it. “You can find a way through this”...said as much to myself, as it was to them.
I’m actually happy I hit this heat struggle. I can't remember the last time I felt this energized for my sport. I once again, respect the distances I run. 100’s could care less about the medals I have on my wall. They only care what I bring to each individual mile. I do this for the challenge, I need to stop being surprised when I’m challenged.
It takes a lot of work to maintain an edge, and this struggle, has helped me to sharpen it. I embrace that my feet finding the finish line, has as much to do with my thoughts, as it does with my body. I’ve read, researched and made a human heat-Guinea pig of myself. This sport may beat up my body, but in doing so, it has taught me that I can overcome, adapt, and keep moving. It’s all a matter of the thoughts I allow in my head.