Have you ever raced with a friend who ended the race feeling horribly disappointed about her performance? It’s the worst. What do you say? What can you do to help her feel better? In the moment, when witnessing your friend experience the crushing feeling of defeat, it’s hard to know what to say or do, even though you know the pain she is feeling and have almost certainly felt it yourself at some point.
I know that pain. I DNF’d my first serious attempt at an ultra. After, I jumped into a 12-hour race on a whim and surprised myself with 36 truly delightful miles. That taste of unexpected success pushed me headfirst into ultras. Naturally, being naive and still high on that accomplishment, I decided to skip the 50 mile distance and jump right into a 100k (62 miles).
I devoted myself to training for the next five months and I was so confident at race registration that I told the organizers that if it took me more than twelve hours to run 100k, they should pull me off the course. I was cocky and, frankly, completely unprepared. Perhaps this exacerbated the devastation I felt when I dropped out and the funk I experienced for two months after.
Looking back, this is what I needed someone to tell me.