It’s not the finish line

This past weekend, in Lethbridge AB (Canada) my husband, Vince, attempted to run a 100 mile race. You read that correctly, 100 miles.

Now, let me preface this with the fact that he is an ultra athlete, and has been for the past 2 years. He has run 3 x 50 km ultra marathons, 1 x 83 km ultra marathon, and 1 x 100 km ultra marathon.

So, yes he goes for a run today, and comes back tomorrow. 🙂

He trains relentlessly, squeezing in runs in between coaching sessions, as lets not forget he also has a Performance Coaching practice to own and operate. He runs evenings, weekends, early morning, late night. Relentless. To put the training into perspective, he ran 100 km+ weeks for about 2 months. 100 km +. Let’s not forget the +. Some weeks he did 102 kms, and some weeks he did 120 kms. 

And if you do or don’t know Vince, I’ll let you know, he is a family man as we have 2 children ages 13 and 15. And training takes time away from them, so he takes it very seriously. There is not a moment where he isn’t researching food and hydration, nutrition, carbs vs calories, trail shoes, headlamps, waist lamps … and so much more.

At the point where you run into the overnight, you need to have all pieces of the puzzle working together. And so, nutrition and gear is a big part of that puzzle. If one piece doesn’t work (at this level) then no pieces work. 

Fast forward to this 100 mile race, which is 161.4 kms. If you’re not good at math, it’s almost 4 full marathons in a row.

At 74 kms and 14 ½ hours, Vince took himself off course with a DNF (did not finish) because of an IT band injury on his right side. He had this injury before, about a year ago, but it hasn’t been a problem since. We use our own jargon on race days for injury, and we say “whisper, talk and scream”. Those are the 3 stages of any injury.

At 27 kms the IT band started to whisper, and at 74 kms it started to scream. The 46 kms in between were quite uncomfortable, as the injury prevented Vince from going up or down any kind of incline without pain. And it just kept getting worse, and starting impacting other areas of the body on those ups and downs.

On this particular race course, in the coulees of Southern Alberta, there are a lot of ups and downs. I believe that there are 16 ups and downs in 1 lap. And the 100 mile race is 3 of those laps. 

So Vince made the mature athlete decision to stop, and live to run another day. For Vince, to run and race as much as he does – his mental game is equally as strong as his physical game. And it showed in how he bounced back from DNF’ing that race. He is already looking ahead to the future with other races, different training, different nutrition options … this did not get him down.

As I type and reflect on all of the countless kms that he has ran, all of the training, all of the physio therapy, all of the chiropractic, all of the research, all of the gear, all of the planning … for that 1 race day, and then not getting the result we were looking for. 

It actually made me realize that it’s the journey we have to fall in love with. Not the finish line, because the finish line might not come. Or it might not come when you think it should. 

And your finish line might be kids in college, sell a business, retire early, or maybe it is also to run an ultra marathon. Whatever it looks like for you, that journey has to be the part that lights you up. Not the finish line. Because the journey is where you spend almost all of your time.

It’s the journey that needs to make you stay curious, and driven, and compassionate towards self and others.
It’s the journey that is the real test.
We think it’s the race, it’s not. 

Whatever journey you are on … parenting, entrepreneurship, career, athletics … fall in love with it. Fall in love with every step of it.

Finish line or not, I think that is why Vince is ok with the result of this race. He has fallen in love with every step of running – not the finish line. And he hasn’t stopped the journey. In fact, I think it’s just begun.

Donita Fowler

Coach | Speaker | Writer

Helping you grow your business and perform better.