After completing the Canyons by UTMB 100-mile race last Saturday, my friend Jenelle told me a funny story. She overheard the following conversation when I came through the Mile 83 aid station:
Volunteer 1: “Adam looked chipper.”
Volunteer 2: “When has Adam ever NOT looked chipper?”
Volunteer 1: Oh, I saw Adam with the slightest hint of fatigue one time.”
Volunteer 2: “…but I bet he was still chipper.”
Hearing this story made my day. It was an illustration of something I have always strived for in life: living joyfully in everything that I do! We don’t have control over everything, but we do have control over how we direct our energy and the outlook that we bring to every situation.
In this instance, the context of the compliment meant even more. The Canyons by UTMB race began on Friday morning at 9am, and by the middle of Friday afternoon the temperatures were already over 90 degrees. From miles 30-50, I was experiencing the worst cramping I’ve ever experienced during a race. My body continually seized up and made it difficult to run during that period of time. I was continually having thoughts of dropping from the race because it seemed like my body wasn’t going to be able to recover from the muscular issues. In spite of that, I told myself to show gratitude, smile and live joyfully during every encounter I had with other people at the race. Whether it was other runners, my crew, volunteers, photographers, or spectators, I wanted to be able to reflect on the race later and be proud of who I was during my worst moments in the race. Ultimately, thanks to the help of my incredible crew, I was able to spend some extra time at aid stations and course correct (no pun intended) so that my body rebounded and I finished in 19 hours, 18 minutes, and 33 seconds. That was good for 7th place overall in a very competitive field!
Looking back on this race, I thought I would be most proud of the problem-solving I did with my crew. We had some major obstacles to overcome with the cramping issues, and together we made it happen. However, after hearing this story, I was actually more proud of what was said about me at the Mile 83 aid station. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, and it’s up to us to decide how we want to respond to that. And sometimes you’re in a ton of pain, and all you can do is smile through the pain!