Bt Cory McArtor
I went into the race feeling exited and extremely well prepared. I had run the Grindstone 100 five weeks before and during the month before MMTR I had set a new personal best in the 5k so I felt confident that my legs were well recovered and ready to go. On Friday I got out of class early and drove down to Lynchburg for the pre-race dinner. The festivities surrounding the race made it completely different than any race I'd been to before. It felt a lot like a large family reunion for ultrarunners. Everyone went around saying hi to old friends, meeting new ones and generally having a great time. After dinner I went upstairs and got a good night's sleep.
The next morning I got up nice and early, took the bus to the start and waited. I was excited because the Mountain Masochist was a race I had always wanted to run. I had heard about it a few years back and thought that it was crazy, and here I was, finally running it as my sixth ultramarathon, well on my way to finishing the Beast Series. When the race started I took off a bit too fast. I was excited, and the first 5 or six miles were on the road, so it was really easy to run faster than I should have. When I hit the trail I eased up a bit. I was planning on just going for a finish instead of a specific time so I didn't want to wear myself out too early. In the early miles I leapfrogged a lot with Jon Basham and Andrew Thompson. Jon Basham had run one of the aid stations at Grindstone and so I thanked him for the excellent breakfast burrito he had made me the second time I came through his aid station. My legs felt great during this section so I kept on plugging along.
Shortly after the second aid station I met Jamie Darling, a student at Liberty who was running her first 50. We started talking and ran together most of the way to the third aid station. During this section my legs were starting to get tired, which was not a good sign so early in the race. It was the first time I had run any more than three miles since Grindstone, so I figured that maybe they weren't completely recovered yet. I didn't really worry too much about it though, because I had run on tired legs before so I didn't think it would be a big issue.
Around the third or fourth aid station things started to go downhill. I started to get pains in my knees every once in a while. I've never had issues with them before, but the pain wasn't bad and it didn't happen very often so I decided I'd keep going for a while and see if it got any better. By about 23 the pain was getting worse and much more frequent. By the time I got to Long Mountain Wayside, about the halfway point, I was hurting enough that I had made up my mind that I needed to drop out.
I was really disappointed to have to drop out. I had run all four of the previous races in the Beast Series, so dropping out of Mountain Masochist eliminated me from the series. For the past several months I had been obsessed with running. Of the little free time I have at school, most of it had been spent either running or thinking about running. It had gotten to the point that running kind of defined who I was, so failing at it stung a lot. But then I realized how absurd it was. It wasn't absurd to be disappointed. Disappointment is normal when you fail to reach a goal. What was absurd was how much I had let running define my life for the past several months. As a Christian, my relationship with Jesus Christ is always supposed to be my highest priority. My life should be about living for Christ, and then anything else can fill in whatever space is left. For the past several months I had been giving running a higher priority. Is this to say that running is bad? Not at all. Running is a very good thing that has helped me stay in shape and make lots of good friends. But you should never let the good get in the way of the best, and the best thing is knowing Jesus Christ and growing in your relationship with Him.
So what did I learn from all of this? I need a break. Physically, I need a break because 5 ultramarathons in my first year of ultrarunning, along with a few ultradistance training runs have finally taken their toll, and in interest of being able to run when I'm as old as Gary Knipling or Dr. Horton, I need to rest and let everything recover. Spiritually, I need a break from from distance running until I get my priorities straight again. I'll be back as soon as Jesus defines who I am again and running is just a hobby, rather than the other way around.
Thanks for putting on a great race. I hope to come back sometime.