You know that whole “if your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough” cliche??
Well this one is scary AF.
It’s something that has been swirling around my mind since my 3rd lap at the Rosaryville 50K. When I realized that, not only was I going to finish this race, but I was going to do it way faster than I thought possible.
I’ve been waffling back and forth for months, but the moment finally arrived when I had to decide to register for the 2018 Catoctin 50K or let my fear convince me that I’m not mentally, emotionally, and physically strong enough to return to the only race I’ve DNFed.
Spoiler alert— I closed my eyes and held my breath as I clicked the “submit” button. And, lucky me, I’m in.
What is the Catoctin 50K, you ask?
The Catoctin 50K was my first attempt at an ultra marathon (~31 miles) way back in 2012 when I was still a newbie runner. I’m not entirely sure what I was thinking at the time. But I’ll tell you what– I sure learned a lot about myself and perceived limits that day.
Catoctin still ranks on my “Top Five Hardest” physical endeavors, and I’m pretty sure it will continue to stay there even after this upcoming attempt.
The Catoctin 50K is touted as a “no frills ultra” located in Gambrill State Park in western Maryland during, arguably, the hottest weekend of the year. The course is out-and-back on rocky, slow, difficult, and demanding single-track trail.
The race director Kevin Sayers describes race day conditions as:
“Race day will be hot. The rubber on the bottom of your shoes gets really gooey hot, melt synthetic clothing hot, sweat buckets of H2O hot.. then again, it might rain buckets of water. The abundance of rocks will be sizzling and the dirt will turn into throat choking dust. Along with the heat is the humidity. It gets ‘cut it with a knife’ humid. You’ll feel like your swimming in the open air.”
From my 2012 experience, this is pretty much spot on.
July in Maryland is hot and humid. Period. You’ll often hear me joke that I wish I had gills for summer running in Maryland!
Kevin also warns runners that
“Once the race starts sympathy is not displayed to anyone regardless of the circumstance. This is an ultra event and it will be conducted accordingly.”
So why am I choosing to return to an event that I failed? Especially one that, just reading the description of, causes my heart rate to increase?
That’s a great question. One that I’m not sure I have a perfect answer to. Maybe by the end of race day– whether I cross the finish line and receive my coveted Cat Card or face another DNF, I’ll have a better answer.
I knew deep in my heart that I would be back some day. I just didn’t know when that “some day” would be. I didn’t know when I would be mentally prepared to return.
And I do mean mentally prepared.
Physically I am strong enough. The human body is incredible, and can always do more than we expect. It’s the mind that needs convinced– every single time for me.
The Catoctin 50K will undoubtedly push all my limits.
And that’s ok. We need to occassionally be pushed to the limit. We don’t grow otherwise, and growth is important.
“Unless you try to do something beyond what you’ve already mastered, you will never grow.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I will continue to make self-care one of my highest priorities.
I will hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
I will set positive intentions each morning.
I will use Rose Wetzel’s centering exercise at the starting line.
I will breathe.
I will rechannel my fear, pain, and doubt into drive and determination.
I will give Catoctin everything I have.
But most important– I will enjoy the journey.
I will be grateful that my body can even attempt something like this. I will be grateful that I get to spend a challenging day on the trail. I will cheer on other runners and thank the volunteers. When it gets hard I will smile and breathe.
I will take the lessons I learn about myself on the trail and use those to improve for whatever my next big adventure might be. I will remember that I am enough. Whether I walk away with the Cat Card or not, I am enough.
And so are you. Where ever you are in your journey, you are enough. Always continue to strive for growth and self-improvement, but love yourself as you are along the way.
You are allow to be both a masterpiece and work in progress simultaneously.
Share with me– what big scary dreams do you have waiting to be released on the world?
🖤 amanda maureen