Joy in Pain

On Sunday I ran 11 miles with Laura and then at the completion of that run immediately went out for a mountain bike ride on the same trail with Sasha. It was a short ride, an hour and fifteen minutes, but after the fasted 2.5 hr, 11 mile run, I was tired. The winds really kicked up during the ride too and battling them was taxing to say the least. Coming around turns the wind knocked me over twice and a crosswind gust at the top of the mesa made me put a foot down as well. And oh so many times it just made me go “oh my god what the fuuuuuccckkkk”. But omg, that was so much fun!!!

What is it about pushing my body to exhaustion that is so fun and feels so good? Sunday certainly wasn’t the end, I’ve been way more exhausted than that before, but it did make me start thinking about that push that I and so many others like me look for and crave. Endurance athletes are decidedly crazy, right? We go out for hours and hours on end, we push our bodies past the point of comfort, we push through achy muscle pain and fatigue, we just keep going, refusing defeat or allowing our body to quit. We ignore the nagging voice in our heads that says we’re tired and can’t go another step or turn the pedal one more revolution, and yet we keep going, keep running, keep pedaling… all the while, thinking what the hell do I do this for?? And at the end of it all, when we collapse to the ground in exhaustion, this elation and energy hits that just reeks of satisfaction and joy. Sometimes we swear we’ll never do something like that again maybe knowing full well we damn will… and then start planning the next one.

The mental fortitude plays a huge role for sure. I know in my head I won’t quit a race of my own accord. I know I won’t bail out on a ride and have someone come pick me up. Its not a knock against anyone who has, its just a state of mind. For me, that’d be a DNF. And I don’t DNF unless my body is actually broken or my equipment completely fails. I had a chain break in a mountain bike race once, and I was so frustrated and felt so defeated. That’s not what I wanted… I was hurting in that race, but I didn’t want to have to be done. But there’s something in my head that says just keep going and don’t stop….

I don’t know why there is such satisfaction in pushing my body so hard, but ever since I found endurance racing (or not racing), I can’t get enough. And I want more. I want to feel that pain and exhaustion. Maybe it makes me, and thousands more like me, just bat shit crazy. But I guess I’ll take it… and I look forward to the next adventure that pushes me to that line again. 🙂 And take all my other crazy friends along for the ride too….

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