Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Ultra Mindset by Travis Macy

Today is the official release day of Travis Macy's book, The Ultra Mindset, and I encourage you to check it out (available at Amazon). Travis was kind enough to ask me to write a blurb corresponding to one of the principle's in his book. Some of what I wrote got cut (I am too wordy!) and some got edited to better fit the theme of the book, but here is my original transcript:

As a mom, I think ultrarunning models many of the life skills I hope to teach my two kids - things like determination, perseverance, goal setting, pushing your boundaries, and working hard. I also hope they see the joy and the passion that I have for being active and getting outside. Yes, I run because I love it, but ultimately, I hope my running influences my kids to think big and to pursue their dreams, too. And knowing my kids are proud of me (at least until they hit their teenage years!) feels great.

In 2010, I lost sight of the impact my running has on my kids during the Angeles Crest 100 mile race. The day was hot, I was tired, and my knee started hurting. I got to a point where I didn’t care any more and I dropped. Certainly there are good reasons not to finish a race, but that night when my five year old daughter Megan asked, “Mommy, why did you drop?”, I didn’t have one. The next morning when she looked at me with her big eyes and said, “Mommy, you should have finished the race,” it felt like a dagger to the heart. I vowed to give my best efforts to get to the finish line from then on.

In 2012, I had a chance to truly test my resolve when things spiraled downhill at the Western States Endurance Run. Instead of the normally hot conditions, the competitors battled through thirty miles of freezing rain, sleet and snow, before dropping to lower elevations and milder conditions. Unprepared for such weather, I became hypothermic. The cold triggered my asthma and my frozen hands were unable to work my pocket zippers, leaving me without any food for several hours.

But the real issue came at 2 o'clock in the morning when I got to mile 85. My weight was up seven pounds and the medical team forced me to stop. I sat for two and a half hours, but was unable to urinate enough for my weight to get back down to a point where the medical team would let me continue. As the cutoff time approached, I knew I needed to get going or I would be cut from the race. The medical team was concerned I might be hyponatremic but I knew I had been drinking large volumes of broth to get warm and was fairly confident that I was not in serious danger.  I signed a waiver of liability and left against medical advice, determined to get to the finish. I was stiff and cold from sitting for so long, but I trudged through the remaining miles to get to the finish. My time was more than eight hours slower than the previous year and I finished fourth from the bottom, but I was so glad I finished. I knew it was a great example for my kids. I was able to tell them sometimes things don’t go your way or the path gets difficult, but you can still do your best and not give up.

Though I was proud of that finish, I certainly didn’t want a repeat of that experience for the Western States Endurance Run in 2013. I took that experience and the mistakes I made to motivate me. I trained harder than ever, I became very regimented with my nutrition, and I picked apart every little detail to have a rock solid race plan. All of these elements came together for a magical race and I ended up winning by more than 40 minutes. My daughter Megan (now 8), joined me for the final 250 meters on the track. Sharing that finish with her was one of the proudest and most memorable moments of my life. It was a triumph after adversity, and I hope the memory and the lesson stay with her for a lifetime, too.


josh z. said...

thanks pam, good timing for this piece to come in front of my eyes. you're awesome.

Rob said...

Awesome, endearing, quick summary of your last few years running. I started reading your blog after the 2012 Western States and have been hooked ever since. All the best for the coming year.

amypc said...

This is a piece of advice that resonates with me, and one of the many reasons I admire you and fellow ultra runners so much. Thanks Pam!

SFBayDuck said...

Well said. I hope that my ultrarunning (at a much lower level than you, of course) has a positive impact on my now-11 year old just as you describe.

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