The body is a wondrous thing: full of energy and will, able to withstand impressive assaults both physical and ephemeral. It allows ultrarunners the chance to pit themselves against 31 miles, 50 miles, 100 miles or more at a time. If our bodies only focused on the most ideal immediate conditions for long-term survival, sports as we know them might not exist. (Conversely, none of us might be obese or stressed out, either.)
In ultras, and in life, sometimes it is just not your day. You might be under the weather, the weather might be over you, your knees might be revolting, or your digestion throwing a riot.
But some days are beyond that, beyond reasonable comprehension into complete unforeseen meltdown. This happened to Joe Grant at 2013’s Hardrock 100, which you can read in glorious detail on his blog.
I start hyperventilating, tears rolling down my cheeks. I simply cannot control my feelings and am overwhelmed by the weight of my emotions. I miss my grandfather. Why am I processing these feelings now? This is not the time or place to do so. This is not the reason why I race. Or is it?
Vibrant and raw reading aside, it makes me wonder about those emotional symptoms. Did they emerge as a protective mechanism for the kidneys’ threatened state? Joe seems to think that might have some merit. Regardless, it’s a powerful read, and prompted many comments, including one from a woman named Shelby who said it was a nourishing tale. This led to a comment by me (even if I temporarily could not spell my own name):
I stand behind that. Those that do not feel a stirring in their humanity when confronted by another nakedly vunerable human, are of little interest or concern.
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