restarting the mojo

It’s happened enough times now that I’m able to recognize a fairly distinctive pattern in how I operate, especially in how I tend to approach and deal with the aftermath of failure.

— Immediately following ‘x‘ event, I’m still pretty gung-ho about giving it another go — it may have beat me, but hey, it was a good learning experience and now I know for next time…and there will be a next time.

— After some dwell time, I start brooding and feeling sorry for myself, and generally entertaining “why bother?” types of thoughts. Because I’m clearly not meant to do whatever it was I was attempting, since I failed at it.

— I either get sick of my own attitude, or some outside force intervenes and drags me back into the fold of whatever I was distancing myself from, and I’m reminded of why I like ‘x‘ activity in the first place.

The latest event to throw me into this cycle was, of course, my DNF at the Crown King Scramble 50k. Not only was I physically broken, but my mental psyche took a pretty good hit, too, and I was having a really hard time remembering why I thought this whole running thing was a good idea in the first place.

I guess that’s one of the hazards of the “jump into the deep end” approach…there’s a greater risk of failure than a more cautious approach. But at the same time, I suppose I’m at optimist at my core, because I tend to have a “you don’t know until you try” outlook.

And I will say, for the most part, on things I’ve failed at the first time around…I’ve come back to them again and been successful.

It was disheartening to pull from the first 50 I ever attempted…and to have to cancel my entry before the ride on my first two attempts to get to a 50 with Mimi…and to get thoroughly beaten by the trail at Man Against Horse…and to have a crappy running season…

But in the long run, I’ve managed to pull a lot of those monkeys off my shoulder and stuff them into a zoo where they belong. It took me seven years, but I got back to that ride scene of my inglorious first pull, and under similar circumstances (same trail, another borrowed horse), I finished it (Old Pueblo 2013).

That first 50 with Mimi was a wonderful experience. By inadvertently being forced to wait (things like saddle fit and her getting bitten on the back), it meant that Dad and I would tackle that first 50 together…as so many of our trail adventures have been shared together, it seemed only appropriate that a big leap into endurance would also be shared.

2008 Man Against Horse may have been a disaster, culminating in getting pulled for “likely being overtime”…but I took everything that went wrong that year and funneled it into a “how to do better” approach…and in 2009, we had pretty much a perfect ride. That finisher’s buckle is one of my more treasured possessions. But after 2008, and two crappy back-to-back rides/pulls, I was ready to throw in the towel…in fact, I didn’t even ride the pony for a couple of months. And then a friend offered me a horse for the 2009 Wickenburg 25, which I accepted…we had a great ride, Top Tenned, the fire to ride got reignited, and the next month, dragged the pony back into action fora successful 50-miler.

Three-and-half so-so miles still beats zero miles

And last night, I ran for real for the first time since Crown King (end of March). It wasn’t all that pretty at times…but it got done. And really, it was just my cardio that had suffered. Fortunately, I’ve still been walking the dog every morning…and I snuck a 3-day, 25-mile backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon in there. 

I can easily fall into somewhat hermit-esque tendencies, especially when I’m hosting a personal pity party, so it does me a world of good to get out of the house, do something, and be around people who share a common interest.
Last night might have been a bit of a rough run, but good times with friends more than made up for it, and got me remembering why I thought this was a good idea…if not for the running itself, then for  the community.
Having such an encouraging, positive, supportive environment really helps, too — the “you failed” mentality is entirely of my own design, and all the feedback I’ve gotten has been positive encouragement that I even tried such a race as my first ultra attempt.
As far as coping strategies go, I’m not sure mine ranks in the Top Five Recommended Ways to Handle Failure…but at least I recognize how I operate? And that I eventually manage to get back on track?

2 thoughts on “restarting the mojo

  1. At personal pity parties, I am a pro….but like you, I pull myself out of it after a while and get on with what makes me happy. You just have to recognize that if you keep trying, those failures will pave the way to success – I have a very hard time remembering this for the most part, lol. Good luck with your future endeavors!

  2. Self awareness counts! I totally hear you on getting sick of my own mental whining, that is almost always my motivator to get over myself and move on. And a supportive tribe is great, too. Onward, at whatever pace we can manage, against all odds.

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