Pacing Lizzy Hawker into Tennessee Valley, TNF 50 2012.
I have always firmly held a philosophy in my running (and now that I think about it, in life as well): "if it is not fun, I shouldn't be doing it". That is not to say I am suffering averse, avoid challenges or stop when its hard. It just means my primary pursuit has been having fun. I have wanted to foster and protect my love for running. I never wanted running to become like basketball, I never wanted to become a way I defined myself. The pursuit of enjoyment therefore has always been paramount. Make no mistake about it plenty of things to me that are 'fun' are also incredibly hard and challenging. Fun in no way indicates ease. If that were the case, I would probably pursue running 5km instead of 50miles.
This philosophy has worked for me in my running (and in life). The races and goals I was excited and passionate about were fun to pursue. I love the feeling of nerves before a hard track workout, I love trying to find another gear after the last has been exhausted when powering up a long trail. I love the satisfaction of making it to the finish line after doing battle with highs and lows, joys and sorrows, pain and weightlessness.
Lizzy crossing the finishline at TNF 50 after a tough day.
Recently, people have been asking us on a nearly constant basis how things are going with the bakery. I have been using the analogy of running 100 miles to describe where we are in the process. In 100 milers, there inevitably comes a point where it just sucks. It's getting dark, you are tired, you've run say 60 or 65 miles and you just really want to quit. Its just not fun any more, you wonder why the hell you started this in the first place. But the thing is, there is no real good reason to quit. So you just keep going.
I have described the process this way numerous times and currently, it does suck. It is hard. I often recently felt consumed by the desire to quit and sit down by the side of the metaphorical trail and not move another inch. I have wonder why the hell we started this in the first place.
In describing the process this way to others however, I had a realization. Yes, the inevitably sucky part comes and it may last and last and last for every freaking mile of that race, but eventually you do reach the finish line. (And obviously, sometimes there is another end to a race vis-a-vi a DNF, but I am not using legitimate reasons for a DNF as part of my metaphor....) But, I realized, It doesn't always have to be fun. Sometimes things worth doing aren't going to be fun, sometimes they are going to be seemingly soul crushing at times. Sometimes they are going to be maddening, defeating and just plain incredibly hard.
I am an emotional creature and I realize that one thing I do as an emotional creature is I am always working through my experiences in my head, trying to find a bright spot, trying to find a foot hold of understanding, trying to digest them in a way that makes for a happier life or personal growth. I search for deeper meaning. But like the 100 mile race, sometimes there are just those lows. Its not because something is wrong, its not because you've err'd in someway, there is nothing more meaningful about it than "it just sucks right now". Sometimes, there is no deeper meaning. I needed to realize that. I needed to find a way to take another step, another step, another step. Realizing it doesn't always have to be fun, means I can shut up, put my head down and just keep going.
Me and Lizzy just after the finish. It wasn't the most fun she's ever had, but she did it.