Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lakeland 100 – Did Not Succeed

Health warning: Contains details of the inner workings of my head that some younger viewers may find disturbing.

On Friday at 6pm I started the Lakeland 100. I was feeling really fit and strong on the back of some good results and great training. I was full of optimism and positivity, and hoping to go well under 30 hours, if not sub-28 hours.

90 minutes later my race was over, stopped by an extremely sore Achilles tendon. Lakeland 8.5 complete.

I failed.

First of all, I’d just like to say that I’m not looking for expressions of sympathy, or “Rich, it was the right thing to do, you’re not a failure, you’ve had a great season so far” etc etc.

I know that logically the above statements are true, but how I feel is totally different.

The fact is that I did fail. I do feel like a failure and a dark cloud is hanging over my head. I feel failure badly.

I’m disappointed that my good results, my fitness, my strength in the hills, all came to nothing. It feels like an opportunity wasted.

But the failure is far more. I worry that others will be doubting me, thinking I’m weak, may even be secretly having a wry smile. That my family, friends, peers will value me less. That I will appear less capable, less worthy.

Paralysis by analysis, it’s said!

Why do I worry so much what others think of me? Self-esteem? Lack of self-value? Seeking praise? Seeking acceptance? Possibly. Probably. Definitely.

I know that logically none of the above are true, but that’s how I feel. I don’t really understand why. My intelligent, professional mind doesn’t understand why, but it’s how I am.

Of course I did the right thing. My Achilles is still sore. You may run off a sore muscle but not a bad Achilles. I would have only made it significantly worse.

Of course I’m not a failure. I’m sat here looking at all my medals hanging on the corners of pictures of my loving family. I am very fortunate, and I have succeeded in nearly everything I’ve ever done.

Of course I’ve had a great year running. The Spine. The MdS. Hardmoors 110. The Lakes 10 Peaks. All really long, tough, epic events. All races I’m extremely proud to have run in and finished.

Perhaps I’m just a little boy, just looking for acceptance, for praise, looking for his place in the world.

Others will be saying, and quite rightly, that I’ve done a huge amount this year, probably too much, and that I need to rest. Jenny tells me this, others hint at it, and I know it’s true.

So why have I pushed it so much this year? Firstly, with being off work for a while, I’ve had more time. More importantly though it’s about pushing the envelope. How far can I go? How long? How often? Again, this is not only for myself but seeking a pat on the back.

I also have to admit that there’s a little ‘How much can I do before I really break myself?’ Jenny laughingly (I think) says I’m a self-harmer. If I’m honest, perhaps there’s something in that as far as running goes.

I’ve just been having an email conversation with a friend:

Friend: I think you did the right thing, really! You have to listen to your body and have the guts to say enough is enough when you know you are going to do some damage, so I still say well done to you! You will come back stronger!!

Rich: I know it was the right thing to do unless I wanted to really destroy my running for months………but I'm still majorly pee'd off! Don't deal with not succeeding very well!

Friend: I think that's what makes you stronger, though! You definitely did the right thing!!

So perhaps what I see (and think others see) as a weakness may actually be a strength.

So there it is. A DNF and nothing is ever simple with me. My body will mend (I hope) and my mind will play its little games. And I’ll be happily running somewhere near you soon!

So when do the entries for next years Lakeland 100 open?


Ultras and a lttle bit more said... [Reply to comment]

I think lots of us feel pressure to succeed. For me at the H110 it was my boss who had been kind enough to let me leave work at lunch on Fri, Bob who drove me across and spent his weekend doing what I wanted to do..... I reckon most ultra runners are tough minded, but sometimes that just isn't enough. Like you I would be disappointed and peed off. But I do not think it makes you a failure to dnf at one race

Mike said... [Reply to comment]

Last year I quit because my heart wasn't in it. Made it up black sail pass then just sat down for an hour before turning round and walking back. Sometimes these things happen and they hurt. I only wish I'd pushed on and failed because of an injury instead of failing mentally. In that sense you beat me soundly.

Andrew Lang said... [Reply to comment]

Feel for you Rich. It's happened to me in the past and I've had all the same thoughts that weren't helped by the kind words of friends and family. Now I'm older and can look back at it I can deal with it in a different way. What makes you stronger is failing and then doing it again and facing up to the fear of failing again. We're all vulnerable, we all have weaknesses, doesn't make us any less. You just need time to reflect on it, it's less than a week ago and your still raw, Give it time and good luck with the next one.

Flip said... [Reply to comment]

A failure would have been to keep going and probably destroy your year with injury. Believe me, breaking my foot 4 times in a row in 2.5 years makes me an expert on what not to do ! Right decision made mate. Plenty more races but only if your injury free. Enjoy the summer :-)

Mike Dobson-Hornett said... [Reply to comment]

Failure? A failure in my book is making the wrong decision. It's very simple, your achievements this year speak for themselves. So, back to the event: You started, you were injured and therefore made the correct call to act responsibly - for both you and the event. End of.

The hills will always be there for us ... let them wait :) ... and shoot that bloody dog ;-) Best Wishes and congrats on getting the big calls right.

Richard Lendon said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks all - yes, you are all totally correct. It wasn't a failure and it was the correct decision but my mind likes to dwell on the negative side of things - but logic is winning!

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