It is summer and it is hot. There aren’t many races during the summer, but even still, covid has killed some of them. I like to go in races. Sometimes I win age group awards. Sometimes I get awesome bling; yeah, I like bling. Sometimes I get in the Zone and impress the hell out of myself. So I enter races and then see what happens.
Summer, a night race sounds good: Get Your Butt Kicked @ Route 66. The race was put on by a Saint Louis ultra runner club, so there were a number of amazing runners there. The race was a 6 hour event from 6 pm to midnight. The idea is to run as many miles as you want in 6 hours. The race was held in a small state park on a totally flat course of about 2.5 miles, in trees. It turns out that it was a very informal affair, more like a fun run than a race. They gave us our medals when they gave us our bibs. No pressure. No goal. Have a nice run.
Conundrum. What was I doing there? I drove over 200 miles. I had a hotel room. Maybe I was there to complete 26 miles in 6 hours; an obvious goal. Look, I ran a marathon. But the informality of the event plus the lack of awards for completing something left me with no goal. Like, now I was there just to run as long as I felt like it. No dopamine rewards from this effort. Pride of self could somehow not be obtained. I need the constraints, like you don’t get your medal until after you run the 26 miles.
But the race was a jovial and friendly event. We were saying hi and chatting it up with perfect strangers. I parked next to a young man named Nate. Neither one of us had been there before. I put my cooler with bottles of Gatorade and my chair along the course. Nate said he would bunk next to me, as he put down his own water bottles. That was cute. The result of all these personal aid stations was an area lined with chairs and non-runners sitting around, music and a party atmosphere.
For Missouri in July, you could say it was a cool evening. But 85F with humidity feels pretty warm when you are running. About 100 runners became very sweaty as soon as we started running. I started drinking my Gatorade sooner than I usually do. I added in walk breaks sooner than I usually do. Around 9 pm, I needed to start using my head lamp. This is when I began the hard decision making about how long I would stay out there. With a bright light on forehead, many flying insects were attracted to me. I was still sweating. My Gatorade was running out and I’d have to switch to water. No extra bling for 26 miles. I wasn’t motivated to stay at the race for 6 hours or 26 miles. My head was not in the game. So, how do I decide when to quit when there is basically nothing wrong with my feet or legs? My problem is that I just don’t feel like keeping going. Hummm. Finally I thought, well go for longer than you would if this was a training run by yourself. Go until after 10 pm. Go for at least 20 miles.
So that is what happened. No glory in this activity. No Instagram worthy moments. Nothing to brag about. I got to hear a large number of bugs and bull frogs making noises in the swamp. I got to experience my self as I struggle with myself. Not great fun but a common mental state for me. I am what I am.
Video of the starting area is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uV798kRbfag