Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tour de Virginia: Recap Day 5

Well, we all know what happened on day 5. It was the first thing I blogged about when returning home not even midway through the Tour. (Catch up here if you missed it.)

As the days go by, there is little I can think about other than the events that transpired. I keep contemplating that I could have been, no, should be with the three remaining runners as they head for the finish in Harpers Ferry today. But alas, I am not. Honestly, I can't wait to congratulate them for their outstanding performances. So impressive! Yet, at the same time, I am hoping their finishes will allow me to put things in perspective and move on.

Here is what I've been thinking. It's the honest, brutal truth. I've been trying to weigh the reasons for the decision I made to quit against reasons why I should not dropped. Bare with me as I try to make sense of it all, in no particular order.

Reasons why I dropped:
1. I was emotionally spent, crying often during the day.
2. I felt lonely. I was not happy.
3. I was WAY behind the others--again. I hated this. This happened daily.
4. I got the feeling, whether imagined or not, that the others thought I was too slow, ill-equipped, and regretted the decision to "invite" me via Facebook. It felt like something between pity and annoyance at me making the logistics so difficult.
5. The miles seemed endless.
6. My feet really hurt, especially the blister under the ball and heel of my foot. It slowed progress over the rocks and uneven ground because it felt like it was being ripped apart.
7. Having enough to drink was a continual battle. Hence, I probably didn't drink enough in hopes of not running dry, resulting in compounding dehydration.
8. I had decided throughout the day that I hated the time on the trail. There were so many things to be done at home. At the time, it seemed to be a waste.
9. I wanted more sleep. I was functioning on a few scant hours per night. It was frustrating to never "feel" tired when I crawled into my tent. I didn't understand that. I should have been exhausted.
10. I hated the rushed routine of early mornings, trying to stay ahead of the others, being on the trail all day, a hurried supper and prep for the next day. I couldn't imagine nine more days of the same.
11. When I prayed for someone to show up at the road crossing--and they did--I felt that it would be kin to kicking a gift horse in the mouth if I turned down their help.
12. My husband had said he would pick me up if I dropped out. He loved me either way. But I almost wished he would have given me a little "tough love" encouragement.
13. I figured it would be between 9:30 and 10:30 p.m. before I finished the stage. I questioned my ability to eat, get cleaned up, pack for the next stage, and get up to do another 40-plus miles again at 3:30 a.m.
14. No one tried to talk me out of dropping. Had there been reception, I should have called someone who would tell me quitting was not an option.
15. I got frustrated at the thought of no support or check-ins during the day. What if something happened to me? No one would have any idea of where to start looking. The feeling of being on my own for 46 miles in a weakened state was overwhelming.
16. I decided I never wanted to do an aggressive multi-day event again.

Reasons why I should not have dropped:
1. Wise decisions are seldom made when based on emotion. I was definitely too emotional to make a wise decision.
2. Did my feet hurt? Yes. But not as bad as they have in past adventures. I could have put up with more pain (I think), assuming I could squish them into shoes again in the morning.
3. My legs were still fine. They felt a little tired when crawling over and around blowdowns but other than that, they were intact.
4.  I had paid into the event. I had just as much right to do the event (at my own speed) as everyone else.
5. There was nothing life-threatening about my state. I was just feeling a little weannie-like.
6. I contemplated how my suffering and perseverance could have be a great lesson to the athletes I coach.
A little swollen
7. It might have been wise to finish the stage, despite the late finish, went through the motions of preparation, and see how I felt in the morning. My Dad always said, "Get up and get moving. You'll feel better."

In retrospect, the following are tumbling around in my brain, still not bringing clarity.
1. My "recovery" has been very easy. It's almost like I didn't do anything. This tells me I didn't leave it all out there on the trail.
2. My feet are the only physical reminder of the event. I am still filing and cutting away dead skin, resulting in several big "holes" several skin layers deep.
3. I have run all but two days since then and my legs feel fine, strong, even.
4. Had I not dropped out, I would not have been able to host the runners for two nights to the extent that I did, cooking and baking huge volumes of food. I think this was of benefit to the runners. I LOVED serving them in this way.
5. Had I not dropped out, they would not have had support while out on the trail during stages eight and nine. This allowed them to carry less and not rely on streams and springs for their water. Again, the runners benefited because of this and I enjoyed continuing to be part of the team.
6. I have not been a good example to my athletes in terms of demonstrating perseverance despite adversity.
7. On the other hand, my failure to endure could be an example of what not to do.
8. Even on that day, I felt guilty in not finishing the stage. I could have at least done that. I didn't know it at the time, but I would have had but five miles remaining instead of seven. (The finish area had to be changed.)
9. But, had I finished and continued on, who knows if I would have broken down physically later on?

I'm sure you can tell I am still tormented about dropping out. I know I have to come to grips with it or risk going crazy. So, how can I bring resolution?

A friend recently wrote: "I understand your internal struggle. . .You can’t go back and change your decision.  If you had been doing this alone, you could have had a shorter day or taken a day off to allow body and mind to recuperate. . . It is way too easy to second guess ourselves after the fact. You made your decision and at least in my eyes you made the correct one. God gave you a brain to think and reason. You utilized that brain to make the best decision.  Remember, God answered your prayers when you needed it the most.

He's right. I can't go back and change anything. What's done is done. I need to get over it. Is it embarrassing to have dropped out after five days and only about 200 miles, a mere third of the total? Yep. Sure is. I went into this knowing it would be the hardest thing I'd ever done while reminding myself what it would be like to run across the bridge in Harpers Ferry. Apparently, that wasn't enough. Today, the others finish without me. Cudos to them. Well done.

Me? I'm not getting any younger but maybe I don't have to hang up my quest for adventure. Perhaps I only have to amend the method. Crew support. Flexible schedule. A partner. So brother John, maybe the 586-mile Israel Trail can be undertaken after all.


Kelly said...

Rebekah - I appreciate your honesty. It seems that the stress of self-support for the long days really pulled you down - so you wasted mental energy. You learned that next time you need to do this type of event a bit differently.

And in the end, you completed a 5 day 200 mile adventure! I would try to view it as what you accomplished, rather than an incomplete event. And in the end, it really seemed like God provided for you several times and particularly when you stopped.

I encourage you to move forward and consider your next big goal! Try not to dwell on what could have been or used to be. (easier said than done). Blessings to you!

Rebekah Trittipoe said...

Hi Kelly- Yes, being self sufficient was especially challenging on those 100 degree days. But, then again, everyone had to deal with it. Perhaps I worried too much about it.

Thanks for your encouraging words. Time heals and I'm sure I will process everything better in the coming days.

ultracassie said...

After I read Under an Equatorial Sky, I couldn't help but think "This woman is awesome!" One day many moons ago after quoting you on my website, I found an email from you entitled "From a fellow trail runner" in my inbox. I can't tell you how excited I was to get that email! I ran around telling everyone. Half of them had no clue what I was talking about. It didn't matter. That email made me think you were even more awesome. The more I read your words about Jesus, the more amazing I know you are.

Rebekah, you are a great example to all athletes. One event does not define a person. Heck, running doesn't define a person. You are a tough cookie with a good heart. I consider you an inspiration. Keep your chin up and keep the focus on Jesus.

I'm looking forward to reading about your next adventure... no matter the outcome.... because I know it will be full of lessons, humor, love, and God.

Happy running, lady!


Rebekah Trittipoe said...

Cassie, You made my day. I can't tell you what your words mean to me. I am so encouraged right now, thanks to you!

Eric Grossman said...

I'm just reading this for the first time. I didn't realize the intensity of your torment! I knew from the start that you would be in for long days and that it would be a different kind of challenge than I faced - and likely more difficult. Rest assured I respected the way you competed and it would never have occurred to me to think that you were bringing anyone down -- because if anything your task was more difficult and your efforts more heroic. Those first 5 days were the worst of the tour, mostly because of the heat. All of us realize that it could have been any of us at any time. I was fortunate my tendinitis didn't start sooner or I would have had to DNF as well. If you haven't already, I hope you make peace with yourself.
All the best!

Kim said...

Thanks for writing this post. I dropped from Hardrock at mile 65 and am now in the "regret" phase of my decision. Glad to know I'm not alone in similiar feelings.

Rebekah Trittipoe said...

Eric- Your words are encouraging. I was especially concerned that you would regret inviting me along because of my speed (or lack thereof). I am so relieved to know that it didn't bother you like I imagined it did.

And Kim- I feel your pain. Time heals. And as the wound heals over, new hope grows and fills in the void. Hang in there.

Follow the yellow lines

Jack in his younger days "Well, you know I can't live here by myself. I'm moving in with you." I guess he was serious....