“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” William Shakespeare.
As I slid into the eighteen mile aid station I knew I was about 30 minutes behind schedule. The mud and snow and sleet and rain had severely hampered what I knew was great running territory where I expected to gain time not lose it. Facing one of the hardest portions of the course in the next part was a nearly four mile slog straight up and over a pass. I call this stretch the Wall of Death and as I refilled water bottles and grabbed a bite to eat I chose not to even try changing shoes and socks and set out. Somewhere in the first eighteen miles I had over extended a knee in one of my many slides trying to maintain footing and the uphill section I was running nearly put me to tears as I fought the pain. As I slid into the aid station six and half miles from the next time cut off I realized looking at my watch that in order to not earn another dreaded DNF I was going to have to run this section in a time I had never done before as I had just over an hour to make it. To say doubt was my trail companion is an overstatement. Everything made me want to just toss in the towel there and slowly make my way to where my wife was waiting at the aid station. Two things however made me pick up the pace and give it everything I had.
The first is something we will all need to overcome our doubts and push past them to reach our dreams and desires. This quite simply put is somebody else. One of the people who I had put in hours training with, both enjoying and hating some of the training runs, was also at this last aid station so close but yet so far to the timed cut off aid station. This was her very first ultra and the desire that burned in her eyes made me say out loud “damn it, we’re going to give it everything we have to get you to that aid station in time!” I was emphatic about making up lost time and pushing through pain not for my sake but for a friend. I wanted to see her accomplish a goal that was an out there goal, a goal that looks impossible. We together pushed through some really hard sections until I got her to two miles from the aid station. I had pushed my body as far as I possible could and told her that she needed to fly like the wind the rest of the way and try to make it. My gimpy knee was not allowing me to push it on either uphill or downhill sections. Unfortunately neither of us made that cutoff but we could hold our heads high knowing we gave it everything we had.
The second thing that made me push through my doubts was that I knew that if I just gave up I could never forgive myself. Much like this Shakespeare quote I knew that there was a future good I would lose if I feared to attempt to do whatever I could to make it. As I limped up the final hill to that aid station and peeled off my bib I knew that I hadn’t failed because I failed to attempt but rather that I was successful because I attempted and gave it everything i had.
Doubts and fears are real. They’re not some fake imagining lurking only in the minds of people who attempt great things but also lurking in the minds of people who could attempt the doable but settle for the comfortable. 1 John 5:4 “This is the victory that has over come the world….” To overcome the world is to gain victory over its sinful pattern of life by obedience to God’s commands. You may not know this but you are already equipped to overcome your doubts and fears. There is no secret potion you have to drink or super person you have to become. To put overcoming as simple as possible, all that is required of you is that you be obedient. Whether you’re attempting to overcome an addiction, trying to lose weight, trying to become a faithful spouse or trying to run a 100 mile race; all that you need is already within you to overcome all the doubts and fears that are coursing through your body.
Run on my friend for you are ready for great things and you will only not win if you fail to attempt. This is where you will separate your doubts and fears from the reality of an ultra life lived, a life lived to the full. This is a life that won’t always be filled with victories but one that will be filled with confidence because you attempted.