You’re crazy! You have problems! You really think a race called the Death Race is fun?
I say; yup, I do have problems, and for sure it’s fun!
These are some of the responses I hear from people when I try to explain some of the races I do.
Most of the time I just get a “why?” accompanied by a concerned and confused look though.
Why?…that’s the big question, isn’t it?
Let me start by telling you a quick story about how it started.
In 1998 I left my job as Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach with the New York Jets. Having spent 3 years watching other people compete, I was itching to get back at competing myself. As you’ll start to see, I’m a very competitive person. “Very” might be an understatement. I have a hard time letting my 11 year old daughter win…at anything. I know, I know, that’s horrible. Don’t worry, I let her win every once in awhile…I just win most of the time.
Anyway, when I left the Jets I immediately signed up for a short 5-mile road race that happened to be the very next day. There was a typo on the website and it actually said it was a 50-mile road race. I had never heard of a race that long, so that “0” after the 5 must be a typo…right? Wrong! I showed up the next morning and immediately knew something was wrong. A-there were only 7 or 8 people there. B-they were all half my weight. At the time I weighed 201 lbs and that was mostly muscle. And C-I was the only one there with even a hint of dark skin. Well, long story short, it WAS a 50 mile run! At the Jets we never did long runs so I hadn’t run anything over 3 miles in years! Me being me, I decided to give it a shot.
11 ½ hours later I crossed the finish line. I hated every second of the 11 ½ hours and felt like I was going to die…but I did it! Holy hell, I ran 50 miles with no training! It was at that moment that I realized how powerful the mind can be. If you’re determined and willing to sacrifice, you can accomplish some pretty amazing feats.
All that being said, I paid for my idiocy though. I threw up blood for 7 straight hours, I suffered stress fractures to both of my shin bones and both of my hip bones. I literally couldn’t get out of bed for 3 days. Peeing in a bucket while laying on your side in bed can get pretty rough (and messy). As if all of that wasn’t bad enough and to add insult to injury, my nipples were bloody and raw (a common long distance running “injury”) for days. “Doc, don’t ask why, but my nipples are raw and bloody, what can I put on them to help?” Yeah, awkward.
Enough about nipples...back to how this all started.
As I mentioned above, I hate losing! I was the last person to cross that finish line and decided that that will never happen again. Ever. I found another 50 mile run that instead of being the next day was 2 months away. I trained for it and dropped my time by 3 hours. I was hooked. I was addicted from that point on.
I can see by your face you’re still wondering “why?”. There are several reasons why I do it. Some being more complex than others.
In a nutshell...
I do it because I have a burning desire to push past perceived limits. “Perceived” being the key word. Our bodies were designed to endure a lot. They were designed to go for hours and hours and miles and miles. It’s only recently that we’ve gotten lazy and become a culture of couch sitters and remote clickers. Those “limits” have been downgraded from 20+ miles of hunting and gathering every day to taking a taxi 7 blocks to work every day.
I do it to destroy the walls of my comfort zone. That’s where I belong. That’s where the world becomes focused and everything becomes clear. That is where I feel the most comfortable…outside of my comfort zone.
I do it because I’m stubborn. If you tell me I can’t, I will.
I do it to prove to my biological mother that I am worthy. Why was I given up? Was I not as adequate as the other kids out there? Being adopted has instilled a desire to prove that I’m just as good as the other kids. That’s a whole separate post. As I mentioned, some are more complex than others.
I do it because I like the challenge of toeing the line between exhilaration and failure. Pride and humility. Success and defeat. THAT’S living. That’s testing your true self. That’s diving into the recesses of your soul and extracting the true you. Not the person you want to be. Or the person you think you are. The person that is you when the chips are on the table and you’re about to quit something you’ve been striving for for months. Will you win or will you lose?
I do it because I can. Because there are people out there who haven’t taken a single step in their entire lives. I refuse to take what I have for granted. I intend to use this amazing machine we’ve been given to it’s fullest extent. I intend to go to my grave all beat up and broken down but with a bucket full of memories.
I do it because I have idiotic tendencies that won’t rest.