The Zion100… What can I say. That was one hell of a ride. 9 months of training, 10 days on the road with my wife and kids, and 20 epic hours of mind bending, painful, glorious running.
There has been many days I have sat down with the intentions of writing a follow up post about the run. But where even to start? What was going to be days after turned into weeks, and then months. So, here I am finally trying to summarize my adventure. I’m going to keep this as brief as possible and just hit the highlights. Otherwise I’ll be writing for days.
The runners and their support team got shuttled up a narrow dusty road in the dark to the starting area. You can imagine the buzz going through the crowd while listening to the announcements before the race began. They told us of the high likelihood of rain during the race which in the Zion wilderness is no light matter. But, for the runners we were past caring what that meant. All thoughts of failure were scrubbed from the mind.
Taking off from the starting line was euphoric. Starting the slow trot out onto the trail in that massive pack was amazing. All fear had left and there was only excitement left. The herd quickly thinned as we scrambled up the trail of the first mesa. The first steep grueling mesa trail was only the first of many for that day.
The trail was amazing. Skirting along the edge of these mesas looking out over endless miles of Zion Wilderness were breathtaking (and so were the routes to get up on them.) Huge slick rock boulder fields to scramble through looking for the next cluster of flags marking the way. All breathtakingly beautiful.
And to describe the people I met along the run is difficult. I guess the type of person that decides to run a 100 mile trail run is unique to put it lightly. I didn’t meet anyone that wasn’t fascinating. The stories of what let people to choose to do this kind of thing were all as different as the people running. You’d kinda fall into a pace with someone for a while and then eventually end up running on your own for a number of miles until you fell into pace with another person. With that many miles on the trail this happened many times throughout the race.
Ultimately I did not make it to see the finish line. I could rattle off countless reasons why but really
looking back it just came down to it being a really hard thing to be completely prepared for on the first time. I started to struggle to keep up with the pace and eventually came into an aid station behind the cutoff time and was cut from the race. That was about 60 miles in just after my wife Emily jumped in to pace me. A little mix of injuries and coming through a difficult section to follow the trail in the dark (and rain at this point) finally did me in. Immediately following being cut I was devastated. I had trained and prepared for this for almost a year and it was over. But, eventually I found the lesson in that failure. And learned to appreciate it for what it was.
Looking back I think I have gotten more out of making it to the end than I would have in completing it. Sure, it would have been much better for my ego but you know what, it’s important for us to strive for goals that are bigger than us and difficult to achieve. And in doing so you are going to fail. Its nothing more than part of the learning process. And as long as you use those failures and don’t break under the weight of them. They are far more useful than the successes. Had I finished that race my quest to run 100 miles would have been done. Sure I may have gone out and done it again. But instead, I am still looking to accomplish that goal for myself. Its still out there waiting for me.
Since Zion I have taken some time off running, focusing on other areas of my life. You put a lot on the back burner leading up to something like that. Especially for your first time. So, I’ve had plenty of things in my life that needed my attention. But, I’m finding myself ready to make plans for the next attempt. I’m still deciding what time of year would be best and if I want to go back to redeem myself at Zion or attempt another 100 miler somewhere new. I’ll have to keep you posted on that one. But, I do know I’m not done and still have a 100 miles to run.
The Impact Zion Made:
It wasn’t just running in the 100 miler that impacted my life. The whole trip itself created a shift in my thinking about how to live my life and how valuable our time on earth is. All together we were on the road for 10 day and 2700 mile. Pulling our 27′ travel trailer and soaking up every adventure we came across. And it didn’t stop when we got home. The lasting effects from that trip causes us to do the same thing in our day to day lives. Why not treat life as an endless adventure? No, you don’t have to give away all of your possessions and live on the open road but can you integrate what brings you joy into your day to day life? Are there sacrifices you can make to the status qua that might open up room to live more in alignment with who you really are? I ask myself the bigger questions on a more regular basis now. And have lost the fear to act on the answers. Someday has dropped from my vocabulary. If its important it becomes urgent and I get started on it right away.
So, go out and sign up for that race, or if you hate your job tell your boss to pack sand. And if you fail….. Find the lesson and move on. Life is short. So make good use of the time you have.