Yes, it is quite possible I have gone completely off the deep end but if you are willing to follow me, it should be entertaining at least! I thought about waiting to blog about Walter until I completely understand where I’m going with this, but writing helps me understand, so maybe we’ll figure this out together as we go. Let me give you a little background. If you’ve been following along you know I am doing the US Skyrunning Ultra series: Cruel Jewel in May, Speedgoat and La Maratona in July, Angels Staircase in August, The Rut in September, and Flagstaff endurance run in October. As I am getting everything arranged it is becoming very “real”. Each race has 13,000-17,000 feet of vertical gain over 50k-55mi course. The most vertical I have ever done was at Leadville, 18,000 feet over 100 miles. Squish a little less than that gain into 55 miles and you have Cruel Jewel.
This series is my cool impossible, and it is huge and scary, but I want it and I smile every time I think about it...and then fears crop up….Will my legs really do this? You live in Oklahoma...you have one hill that is 4 miles long and 2000 ft high….a hill. And Oklahoma sits at about 400ft above sea level. All but one race is at altitude. Look at your mountain races you’ve done….yeah, you finished, but you just survived them….what makes the fears more intense is that I know I want more than to survive these races….I want to race them, I want to do well, dare I say I want to finish in the top 5 in my age bracket! Now that’s just nuts, but I want going for it. I don’t want fear to limit me. I don’t want to care about the actual result, but the “going for it” part. Unless I can let go of the fear of failing, I can’t fully go for it. And if I can fully “go for it” in training and racing, then the result no longer matters. Ha! if only it were that easy! All of these fears and doubts have been internal. When they crop up they envelop me. Sometimes I can use the visualization of thoughts and fears dangling from the ceiling and I get to choose which ones I want to take hold of, or just acknowledge and go on. But when those thoughts are more feelings, and in particular when they occur when I’m running/training they seem to come so from within that I can’t shake loose or “choose” what to do with them.
The suggestion came that maybe I should consider giving these fears or this voice in my head that expresses these fears a funny name. Hmm...A name for my fears. Enter Walter...let me explain...Jeff Dunham is a comedian/ventriloquist. Walter is one of his characters. He's a sour faced old man, critical of everything and sarcastic as hell. In a way, he is part of the comedian which reminds me of the fears being a part of me but separate too. I see him when those fears pop up. I can hear his voice, “what makes you think you can do this?”, “you seem to be breathing hard, this hill shouldn’t be that hard for you should it?”
So yesterday I had a 12 mi trail run...and lo and behold I ran into Walter. On a long slow slight uphill I could literally see walter. His wrinkled face questioning me...and scouling, "this hill isn't as easy as you thought, it would be, you are only in low zone 3, why isn't this easier for you?". Before I realized what was happening I laughed and told him, "because it's a hill, you idiot!" Walter disappeared, and I immediately felt light and happy again, pleased and relaxed, thinking how ridiculous this old man questioning me sounded. And then I realized that was the first time I had ever separated those negative feelings from me...saw them for what they really were and saw how silly and tiny and powerless they were. I think I like having walter around. I have no idea if I'm crazy or on to something. I am definitely in uncharted territory with my mind.