Ultrarunner Confessional

With the Papal-Palooza taking place overseas, I felt the need to go to confessional this morning. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, it went something like this.

Sacrament of Reconciliation“Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”

The guy on the other side quoted Jeremiah 29.11and said ” β€˜I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. β€˜They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and hope.’”

I said “Well, I sure hope so, because I’ve been trying to get my training down and am doing pretty well, but there’s still giant gaps that I’m having a tough time with. I’m afraid disaster is just around the corner.”

“Oh”, said he. “Tell me more about how you’re forsaking your plan.”

I broke down. “Listen, I’m just not able to squeeze in 100 miles a week. I get up at 3am and can schedule my training, but life gets in the way and besides, my wife will kill me if I’m out all the time.”

“So you’re not 23 years old, single, and work in a running store? That may be where your troubles lie. I’d recommend living in a truck at a trailhead and growing a beard.”

“Sorry. I’m also training for a hundred miler at altitude while living at 35 feet above sea level! Didya hear me father? Thirty five feet!” I could hear the panic in my own voice.

“Well, the Lord said ‘The last enemy to be destroyed is death’.”

“Well that’s taking it a bit too far, don’t you think? I’m not talking about dying, I’m talking about running through the mountains. Right now I’m training in a parking garage!” I showed him my recent GPS map from a workout. “A damn parking garage!”

“That’s pretty funny, but watch your language.”

“Sorry,” I muttered.

“So what else can I help you with?”

“I know that Spring is around the corner, I’ve got a crazy race schedule planned, I’m consciously excited for it, but I’m having a tough time getting everything done. I’m afraid I’m going to get a few races in and either get injured or realize I should have worked harder during training. Is that a sin?”

“Well, be sure to keep balance in your life, try your hardest, and life will work out.”

“Yeah, not so sure about that, Father. This is really important to me and I’m running out of time. After this weekend, I’m even giving up beer until June.”

“Whoa, now you’re taking it too far, my son.”

“No, for realsies. I’ve got 5 pounds to go to get to my good racing weight and I’m determined to do it. And yeah, I know I’m supposed to be doing all my core work and yoga and cross training and eating perfectly, but have you tried to do yoga at home when you have a one and three year old trying to share your space!?! It’s a freaking disaster.”

“Again, watch the language, but no, I don’t have kids.”

“Oh yeah. Well it’s tough. We’ve got a small house and if I try to do it in the early morning, I’ll wake everyone up. Fail. Night time’s a no go.”

“Sounds like you’re making excuses.”

“Call them what you want, but I’m trying to do some reality training. Not this fantasy, fly around the world and run 30 hours per week stuff. This is real life” I argued. “And yes, I know there are myriad other runners around the world who get it done on far more hectic schedules and circumstances than mine, but my ultrarunning is still a work in progress. I’m still learning to adapt to the situation that’s been presented to me.”

“Sounds like you’re whining. How about eating healthy? How’s that going” he questioned. Although I couldn’t see him I could feel his eyebrow raise with incredulity.

“Have you priced out how much Jurek’s mushroom lentil burgers actually cost?!? Jesu….sorry. They’re crazy expensive and we live pretty frugally. I tried the fruitarian diet and you remember what happened there, right?”

“Yeah” he chuckled, “your poop smelled like citrus car cleaner.”

“You remember that? You heard the podcast? Wow. Anyhow, I gotta go. Kids going to preschool and swim lessons today, I’m painting the walls, and am determined to squeeze in another 15 miler this afternoon during nap time. I’ll make this work. No excuses.”

He said another prayer and I thanked him for his time.

On the way out I stopped at their aid station, grabbed some water and some crackers, and headed out the door, determined to find the balance necessary to train for this wacky sport while enjoying life. Whew.


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