by featured Local Legend Adam Kimble

 

As I’ve been watching the Tokyo Olympics over the past week, one thought has been percolating in my mind: the competitive enormity of trying to secure a medal, knowing that if you don’t, you have to wait four (or in the case of this year, three) years to give it another go.  And that’s if you can compete with the best in the world to even have that opportunity a second time, which is certainly not a given.  It’s no wonder that Olympic athletes talk time and time again about how much pressure they feel when they are performing at that level.  It’s unlike anything else in sports.

As I reflected on this and tried to place myself in the shoes of these incredible athletes, it got me thinking about how that idea translates to running.  Sometimes you run a race and it goes swimmingly, and other times you have a bad race or perhaps don’t even finish the race.  The latter situation really stings, and often leaves us with this empty feeling that I would imagine is somewhat akin to what Olympians feel when they fall short of their goals.

Two years ago, I set out to achieve something I hadn’t done before.  I wanted to run the Vermont 100 and the Leadville Trail 100 just four weeks apart.  And not only did I want to run them, but I wanted to finish on the podium at both of them.  The first piece of the plan went well: a third-place finish at the Vermont 100!  However, it was the hottest race (90 degrees, 100% humidity) I’ve ever run, and that includes some desert races that reached temperatures in the 120’s.  The humidity added a layer of difficulty that no dry heat ever could, in my opinion.  So, while the race went well, the stress it put on my body required additional recovery time I didn’t have before I lined up four weeks later at Leadville.  That was part of the experiment, though!  You can’t know what you’re capable of until you put yourself out there and make it happen.  So, I lined up at Leadville feeling pretty good, but knowing I wasn’t nearly as recovered as I should have been.  Only 50k into the race, my body started signaling to me that this day was going to end far too soon.  I ultimately decided to drop from the race at the 50-mile mark, because my body was not cooperating, and I knew it was the decision I had to make. That was only the second time in my life that I ran a race resulting in a DNF (Did Not Finish).  The days and months after that race had me feeling bummed out about falling short of a big goal of mine.  I couldn’t shake that feeling of disappointment, and I couldn’t wait to get back to the start line of Leadville in 2020.  Thinking about having to wait an entire year for redemption felt like an eternity, so it was nearly impossible to imagine having to wait four years like the Olympians do.

But then the pandemic hit, and I was going to have to wait at least another year to toe the line again at Leadville.  The funny thing is that the same circumstances which delayed my opportunity to run the race again also afforded me the opportunity to set the Fastest Known Time (FKT) on the Tahoe Rim Trail.  I never would have set the FKT if races hadn’t been canceled in 2020.  Perspective is powerful, and my newfound perspective gave me a much different way of looking at things after that.  While I still can’t wait to get back to the start line in a few weeks, I now recognize that it’s just one of many events I will race throughout my career.  I have high hopes for an amazing day at Leadville, but if that isn’t in the cards, that’s okay.  It’s just one race, and there will be plenty more.  Similarly, I hope the majority of the 2021 Olympians realize the same thing.  Win or lose, it’s just one race, one event.  There will be more.  Hopefully we all get a second chance at redemption, but if not, our talents will be lead us to other opportunities.  One singular event doesn’t define anything.  It’s just one of many experiences that teach us something about ourselves and helps us to grow into better humans.  And if we utilize our perspective and seek to become the best version of ourselves, we will all be winners at the end of the day!

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