A few reminders as it is easy to forget…
The are many feelings associated with the Alaska Ultra Sport and depending on how it actually went on the trail it may have open up others. The feelings will vary depending on if you are a rookie vs. a veteran and that is probably cause the decisions you make will be different as well as how do deal with certain situations.
Before the race there is much anticipation and nervous energy being generated. What am I going to bring in my kit, will I need my stove, what are you bringing? A rookie can certainly be unsure here but if preparing properly leading up to the event they should gain confidence. I remember my first year staying in the host B&B before the race thinking I was prepared and all the other racers staying there(mostly foreigners, I was the only english speaking) still building there kits, running to gear stores the day before the race. It made me second guess my preparation and very nervous. A good place to stay but not a good place to stay.
What is the trail going to be like? This is fun to talk about but the reality is it is very different then what you will think, even as you are sitting in Anchorage the day before on a beautiful, cold, sun shiny day it can be dumping at the start. The nice thing is we are all on the same trail, so no advantage to anyone, although as the race moves in a few days the leader can have different weather and different trail then the folks in the back. It’s easy to burn energy thinking about these things, the bottom line is, it is what is, accept it.
Once the start of the event hopefully the anticipation and nervousness has at least settled down, if not gone away. Now a new set of feelings might have taken over. Maybe scared, as you enter deeper into the Alaskan backcountry or as it is snowing, scared it might not stop. Now that you actually see overflow, scared to step in it. -40 below out, scared to leave the checkpoint. I think being scared is a good thing on a certain level, it will keep you on your toes.
How about relief, stoked, and happiness once moving down the trail. No more getting ready, it is now happening. I know I feel very comfortable on the trail, it brings back the basics of life and way simpler and easier then so called regular life.
You will be required to make many decisions throughout the day, some easy some not so. When and where to rest, eat, and sleep? How hard/fast to push yourself? These decisions are going to set you up for how you feel down the trail, obviously this is more of a physical feeling but will effect your mental and how clear or unclear your next decisions will be.
Then there is the post race feelings. After completing, or not, such an event you will be reflecting on what you did for a long time. At first it will be all day and then it will start to ease up as time passes. All the what if’s, should of’s and could of’s start to come out? These are great questions to learn from but don’t beat yourself up with them. The strongest post race feelings I have ever had was when I bailed out early on the way to Nome, even though I won the McGrath race, it was not my finishing goal so I never really reaped those feelings. I really got down and did beat myself up with the should of’s, could of’s, and what if’s. When coming up short on something or quitting these feelings will haunt you and make you feel like you have unfinished business.
I know this year there are many people thinking about how they should have done something different, could have waited out the storm, or what if they kept going. The problem, beauty of this is they will have to wait another time around.
What can one do to help with the pulling the plug? Patience, patience and more patience. How about phoning a friend or family member that will push you forward or give you the correct decision to keep going, change your mind. These people need to be tough, possibly creative with words and know what you put into it and what your end goal is. Another thing I constantly preach is “no negative words in the vocabulary”. No such thing as quit, turn around, this is to hard…dismiss this kind of language from your vocabulary!
Probably not the attitude to have…
This is just a small dose of a very impacting experience. It can possibly change people for life! It has changed me in a way that I just can’t get enough…