Monday, August 29, 2011

Crisis of confidence

I enjoyed my weekend despite the fact I wasn't perched on my bike in Washington state, ripping through a cloud of Capitol Forest dust. We took a trip to the city, met up with friends, went for a couple of runs, ate good food. I spent most of Friday glued to updates about the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, which, in case you haven't heard of that race, is generally considered the most competitive ultrarunning race in the world. I was embarrassingly unproductive for most of the day, then stayed awake much too late on Friday night hitting refresh on my Twitter feed. I did feel the 4.6 earthquake that struck south of San Jose at 12:15 Saturday morning, and was still awake at 1:30 a.m. PDT, about the time Geoff and Scott Jurek dropped out of the race. I admit I went to bed feeling bummed. I was really pulling for Geoff — for obvious reasons — as well as all of the other "local" (American) runners in France.

Since Friday there has been a lot of chatter about why so many Americans didn't finish UTMB. Of course I don't know any of the racers' individual reasons, but to me the answer seems obvious. It's an extremely hard mountain race and many of the Americans who made the effort to travel to Europe intended to compete with the top runners. Anyone racing to win has to stick with or nearby the leaders, and racing near the front always comes with enormous risks, even more so when the race is on unknown terrain. It doesn't surprise me that so many U.S. runners flared out in the process. The after-race chatter has bothered me. I'm not usually one to subscribe to nationalism but I admit even I bristled a bit about the  jabs against "lazy Americans."

Since I started to follow ultrarunning more closely, I've been surprised by the strong anti-DNF sentiment that is so prevalent in this sport. Of course finishing a race is always preferable to not finishing, but the "finish at all costs" sentiment doesn't seem nearly as strong in ultra-cycling. Indeed, a fair amount of respect is doled out to bikers who crash and burn during races because "they left it all on the trail." Finishing with gas left in the tank is seen as a negative in competition. And finishing the race with completely wrecked knees just to say you finished is viewed as actually kind of dumb. (Believe me, I know. This was some of the feedback I received after the 2007 Susitna 100, in which I ignored blatant knee pain in a drive to finish that race, and couldn't ride a bicycle again for three months afterward.) But in ultrarunning, DNFs seem to be strong marks of shame. My ever-kind friends are always quick to point out that I "timed out" of the TRT100, which as far as I can tell is preferable to a "quitting" DNF (but in my mind just emphasizes the fact that I'm ultra-slow.) Other friends have described vast horrors in their drive to finish ultras. One has a particularly cringe-inducing story about her Su100 finish, involving a few moments of literal crawling. I certainly have gone through some challenging times in my efforts to finish ultra races, but I don't think there's shame in quitting if you are truly spent. And only the individual can make this judgement call. Agonizing later about a DNF is only human; I still second-guess a lot of decisions I made in the TRT100. But the acronym to "Did Nothing Fatal" still applies.

It's likely that much of the sensitivity I feel about criticisms surrounding American DNFs is attached to my own current insecurities. On Saturday, my friends and I went for a mellow 11-mile run in the Marin Headlands on the Dipsea Trail. Because of my injured arm, I have been running extremely carefully all week long, especially during descents, where I scrutinize every short, deliberate step. But on Saturday, near the steepest part of the descent, I was distracted by a large group of hikers and hooked my left foot on a root. Suddenly, in extreme slow motion, I felt myself going down, and my injured elbow was headed directly for the hard, painful-looking gravel far below. I had an intense surge of adrenaline and somehow threw my right leg out just in time, landing hard and twisting my knee in the process. But it must have been an impressive save, because one of the hikers said "Nice." I felt shattered. My sense of ability drained from tentative to nothing. I hiked down to catch up with my friends and declared that I would never run again, because I "sucked," and from now on would stick to hiking forever and ever.

I know I sounded like a whining child, but the truth is I haven't experienced a crisis of confidence like this since 2007, when chondromalacia patella (decreased knee mobility) dogged me for the better part of three months. It started with the TRT100 DNF, continued through the slump I was experiencing before the crash, onto the crash, and the longer-than-expected recovery. And recovery is going well. There really isn't any complication in my injury that would prevent me from continuing to run, except for I really shouldn't rub any more gravel into my wound if I can avoid it. The problem is, I'm not sure I can avoid it. My crisis of confidence has extended to the point where I question whether I even have control over my movements, or if I'm doomed to perpetual clumsiness, mistakes, and pain.

In some ways, I place too much faith in my irrational insecurities, but I also view them as my own personal challenge — forget that I wasn't "Born to Run," forget my clumsy legs and awkward arm flailing and over-sensitive feet, I'm going to run anyway. Indeed, I went back out today with Beat. We charged hard through the heat up Black Mountain, until my elbow was soaked in so much salty sweat that it burned with distracting intensity. But I continued running anyway. At the top, I turned around and ran down. I was very careful. I did move more slowly than usual. I did think about how amazingly hard it must be to finish a race like UTMB. But I didn't fall. I did finish my run with a smile on my face. Running up and down Black Mountain felt good, except for the burning wound part.

I'll get through this crisis of confidence, I will.

32 comments:

  1. It's easy to dwell on crisis of confidence and the dwelling is more than half the problem. The cure often comes when we least expect to be pushed to our limits.
    I skidded the van recently, just lost control, bumped it up a kerb and killed the wheel. It really threw me and back on the bike I had a hard time hitting corners and descents like I used to. Out on the second night of Paris-Brest-Paris and I move out on a descent to get past a group but another rider doing the same doesn't move back off the centre line. All of a sudden I'm stuck on the wrong side of the road approaching a tight corner and can't brake for fear of wrapping a large Dane around my back wheel.
    Nothing left to do but to put in the power, roll that corner to my best and take it away. After that I was back in the game and over the next 800k no descent was too steep.
    Do what feels comfortable, adventure and spirit will prevail.

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  2. Take it easy for heavens sake. Put on your mtb elbow protection on that wounded wing for some mental reassurance and go at it slowly. You'll gradually heal and push back to where you were before. Just don't screw up that elbow even worse - that barely avoided fall would have been BAD.

    Steve Z

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  3. My friend Mike finished 11th, I believe 1st American (he's the one who beat Geoff's CR at Bear that you insist was a soft time) and I'm really proud of him. I was also impressed when he hit the wall at mile 75 at WS and dropped 60 spots to finish in agony. I have more respect for that. Not sure why.

    Really, the main reason I think it's lame for people like Geoff to drop if he can't win (or do as well as he wants) (and for all I know he was extremely ill, I'm just making this up as an example) is that it's almost like saying it's not worth the bother if you can't have the perfect race that day, which is sort of demonstrative of hubris to me. I am mostly bothered when people discount others' achievements by saying "oh well so and so had a bad day and DNFed that's the only reason so and so did so well." An example of that would be you getting defensive about Geoff's Bear time because he was "having a bad day" and it was a soft time for him. Well, the thing about ultrarunning is that's part of the sport. It's more than raw ability or how well anyone could do if they have a perfect day. That's part of what makes it a fun distance.

    There aren't really "professional" ultrarunners so it's not like one's livlihood depends on winning races. I get that you're defensive of Geoff but I think it's misplaced. I don't think you should really care. It has nothing to do with your arm being filled with gravel and oozing puss. You are hurt.

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  4. Durango Joe7:22 AM

    Shoehorned in with 30 million other Californians, a few million of whom are extreme athletes, I think you are losing a little bit of perspective that hikes up Mt. Jumbo used to give you, ruthlessly comparing yourself with better athletes and missing the big picture. It's not life and death, it's not cancer research, it's sports we presue for "fun". In a way athletes manifest a little of the same kind of self-involvement as actors. May I suggest next hike-run-ride, slow down, appreciate being able to pursue it at any speed, and smell the roses.....

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  5. I'll leave DNF comments aside for now.

    However, I think there is something you have overlooked in your "Monday-morning quarterbacking" of your weekend activities. YOU DIDN'T FALL!

    You know I run technical downhills a bit like a mad man. The truth is, it isn't due to some innate balance and agility. In fact, I can be quite clumsy. Anyone who runs behind me for any length of time (especially on flat terrain) will see that I often catch my foot on random rocks, roots and other bits of trail debris. What I am, or have become, is very good at catching myself and/or recovering from near slips (or even full slips).

    You just need to look at every time you catch yourself as another vote of confidence in your abilities. You build new muscle memory with each one that makes future falls less likely (and hopefully less painful). I would bet that you catch yourself a lot more than you actually fall. It's just that the times where you hit the ground tend to stick out so much more in the psyche.

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  6. Danni, I had no intention of discounting Foote's, Wolfe's, or anyone else's accomplishments for that matter. Sorry if you interpreted it that way. I think it's so awesome that the Montana Mikes pulled off such fantastic performances. I also was really impressed with Hal Koerner, for whom things didn't seem to go as planned but he still pulled in to finish in something like 300th place. Really amazing.

    I haven't had much contact with Geoff since the book came out. But from the few personal e-mails I've received from him, I gleaned that he wanted a UTMB finish more than anything. He's not really the type to quit because he can't win, despite what value jugements many lump onto most of the faster people in the sport, but he's also not the type to push his body beyond a point of breakdown. I think it's likely he was just completely spent, at least in a way that it would have taken an enormous amount of personal pain and mind-game survival instinct to pull it together for a finish. And really, for what reason? Everyone has their personal rewards from this sport, but for me, fifty miles of absolute suffering to walk it in hardly seems reasonable, unless you're in the middle of the Alaska Range and you have to walk out to survive.

    But this is just my opinion. I've already finished one race I should have dropped from (2007 Susitna 100), and I paid a heavy price for that. I still have knee issues four years later, thus that brace I wear on all of my longer efforts. I was in enough pain during the TRT100 that I'm pretty certain I would have dropped even if I hadn't missed the time cut-off, and it likely would have been at mile 90 instead of mile 80, even with all the shame attached to that, because I would have crawled 10 more miles and realized that I had no more joy or reward left in the effort. Beat tells me it always gets better, but I'm not so sure. I of course still have much to learn.

    And I wasn't the one who called Geoff's Bear 100 a soft time. He was the one who called it as much, for reasons I can't remember, and he might have just been joking all I know. I of course can't fathom running any 100-miler in under 20 hours. It baffles me that anyone can do it.

    Anyway, Foote is awesome, I agree, as is Liz Hawker. I'm inspired by all of these people in this sport, which is why it's hard to see them so heavily criticized for putting it all on the line.

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  7. Re DNF's I commented on Nick Clark's blog. In general, Danni's sentiments make sense to me. In the end, we're all people of opinions.
    Re your insecurities. I can feel your pain. I was chatting with my husband yesterday and saying that I used to race a whole bunch because I needed to make sure I am validated in my own eyes. I have a handful of DNF's and I still feel odd (to say the least) about those. Even though all but one were due to injury preventing me to move on. However, time heals insecurities if and when there are other items you find for that validation, or slowly pull away for the need to be validated. Better the combination of both. As someone who puts quite a lot of pressure on myself, I identify with you. As someone a few years more into life, I promise it will begin to feel less prominent once we admit it and simply accept it:) Now, the arm does need to be taken care of! Do as I say, not as I do:))

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  8. Yes, Olga, I definitely understand. It's funny I even felt compelled to armchair quarterback UTMB at all. What do I know? In my personal athletic experiences, my regrets are a race I didn't DNF but wish I had ('07 Su100), and another I lost to a stupid, klutzy mistake (falling into a pressure crack on Flathorn Lake, and consequently getting frostbite in Iditarod '09) I am sensitive to DNF stigma, though. The freedom to quit is one of the reasons I value endurance racing as an adventure pursuit. Organized races provide a good middle ground of challenging physical conditions with fewer of the dangerous extremes involved with solo efforts. You don't have nearly the same luxuries and choices in self-supported wilderness adventures.

    My crisis of confidence has more to do with my survival abilities than my competitive drive. I don't even really care how I compare to others, I just want to stay vertical on my feet (or wheels) while doing the things I most enjoy. I'd really like to think that I could trek across the Brooks Range someday without breaking my ankle or otherwise clumsily landing myself into a life-threatening situation. I don't trust my body and that's a hard mental place to be. I know I'm just having a rough patch, but I am a bit frustrated, and it does feel good to write it out.

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  9. I have a few non-DNF's I wish I did, because I have very bad memories not so much of the times, but of how emotionally bad I felt and how I behaved towards trails and my friends who came to support. In fact, 2 races. I feel much worse about those.
    I don't compare myself to others. I am just very judgmental for myself, no excuses. So, I compare myself to my best case scenario, which keeps escaping for one reason or another:)

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  10. Oh Jill, I am right there with you. I'm back mountain biking again and the slightest sketch on a downhill has me off the bike and walking. I love going up, but I have to fight a panic attach to try to stay on the bike going back down. And god forbid I have to ride over any waterbars, I don't think I could handle that right now. I just keep seeing myself going over the bars again and not being able to get up. Please keep writing about how you get through this - I hope it helps me, too.

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  11. Jill I agree that finishing just to finish even if it means getting hurt is totally unnecessary and I would never begrudge anyone who makes that choice. I mean, I'm not really one to critisize others for DNFs...

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  12. Btw, the European ultrarunners seem to be a lot more professional than the Americans - some of them are former pro cyclists, and the sport there is definitely surprisingly well developed. That's not a stab at America - I like low-key events - just an observation. As for DNF, I think as a top runner you cannot fall too far behind the leader if you want a shot at the win - so I can understand that they push it to a point where they really have an extremely hard time going on. They also might not be as familiar with walking through hours of recovery as I often do ... I was always against judging people in their running. There's no reason to feel insulted by their DNF - it could be that the slow folks are simply tougher when the going gets tough than some of those elites :) I don't think the DNFs take anything away from those runners - this year, Kilian is just unbeatable - as was Geoff a year back ...
    What I really do mind is that Nick tried to blame the race organization in part for his DNF. I am sick of people blaming organizers in all but very very few cases. They had to manage 2000+ runners in extremely dangerous conditions. and 1100 still finished. And I think you'd be pretty lost in any american race not speaking english ...
    As for Nationalism, I am appalled equally by the American defensiveness that many people show who didn't run the race as I am by the arrogance of some europeans. I feel I have more in common with almost any ultrarunner than I have with any american or swiss who is a couch potato ... or maybe not, after this.
    Lastly, Jill will find her stride, of course. It took pretty much everyone like five to ten times as long to accomplish - running wise - what she already has.

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  13. Anonymous10:02 AM

    Re the DNF thing: I completely agree with you. I came to ultrarunning from climbing and I always wonder how runners expect to really push themselves if they aren't willing to fail sometimes. If you finish all your races, then you haven't figured out what your true limits are because you haven't pushed yourself to a point where you can find them. In fact, I would say that if you never DNF, you aren't trying hard enough! I would prefer to be in the position I'm in, having finished a couple of races that were truly hard but yet also having dropped out of several races, than be one of those people who says "oh, I never drop out of anything", because my guess is that those people, at some (subconscious?) level aren't entering the harder races because they're afraid of DNFing.

    -Alicia

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  14. Actually I rarely drop and a friend of mine has not yet, and I think we're signing up for the hardest stuff you can find (much harder than Hardrock/UTMB ...). Finishing is also a worthy challenge in itself if you're slower like me. But everyone has different goals for sure! And I admit I am very bad at pushing the pace - I usually have much gas left in the tank. Then again, possibly due to that I can run back to back 100s (1 week apart) easily, which is another goal/challenge I take on. That's the beauty of ultras - we all know how hard it is, so there's no need for anyone to feel better than anyone else. Sadly, some people still do ... ah well. I've got respect for anyone toeing the start line in those races. Takes some guts to show up, I remember that well :)

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  15. All that said I read from one runner about UTMB:

    "I could only walk the downhills, so I dropped".

    I walked the downhills in the second 100 miles of Tor Des Geants (200m 80000ft climb) due to some knee issue (I was close to tears at some point) ... but finished, and went on to finish another 100 the following week (this time without knee issues, fortunately as I thought it was actually muscular, doesn't hurt any less though).

    Have to say I may not be fast, but that made me feel a bit good about myself ;)

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  16. Anonymous11:28 AM

    Hey, I definitely wasn't trying to make a better/worse comparison of runners, in case that's how it sounded. I was just saying that I think the "must never DNF" mindset is the wrong mindset for achieving maximum improvement. But I understand that some people want to do races just for the fun (well, "fun"!) and challenge of doing them, not to improve, and that works too.

    Alicia

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  17. Totally understood, I didn't take it that way. You're absolutely right for time improvement in a given distance. If you aim for the ITI 1000 mile, or running as many 100s in a year as possible, I think my approach is not totally different actually - I push the envelope as well by racing as much as possible with minimal recovery etc - it's not making me faster, but it IS making me stronger in other ways - if I can avoid injury. In that sense, I am pushing my own abilities, and every once in a while, I do fail for sure (mostly in the form of DNS). As I said, it really depends on your goals.

    But we're in agreement - pushing yourself beyond your limits is basically unavoidable if you want to extend them.

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  18. Anonymous12:32 PM

    Oh good, I was stressed out wondering if I'd managed to offend a nice runner on the internet:)

    Yeah, it sounds like we are pretty much agreeing then. I'm hoping the ultrarunning community eventually moves beyond the "must not DNF" thing eventually, because when the equivalent change happened in climbing, the result was a huge improvement in standards. Could be exciting!

    Alicia

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  19. Anonymous12:43 PM

    Jill,

    I think (personal observation here) that you are avoiding the thing you are good at (bike riding) for your boy friend. Sorry, but reading your blog, your comments, your description of how you are built to ride a bike, that's the (hard) honest truth from what I see. I think you should do what you love/enjoy and quit trying to force the running thing just because you, well, want to "fit in" with what your boyfriend does. He can do his thing (he hasn't really embraced riding) and you can do yours (you are trying to force yourself to embrace running). Get on a bike and kick some ever lov'n arse on that thing. Run for fun. If you applied yourself singularly to what you are truly built for, what you really love and enjoy, who knows what you would accomplish (on 2 wheels).

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  20. Anon -- Jill got into running pre-Beat. Before she even knew who he was, she declared to me that she was going to run 100 miles. The timing was extremely close, but Beat didn't come first.

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  21. I read your tweet and your blog post because I'm going through a similar crisis of confidence. I'm an experienced runner and have fallen 3 times in 6 weeks. The first two were on trail runs and the last on a fairly safe sidewalk. I currently look like I rolled out of a fast moving vehicle. I'm blaming slightly too big shoes but I've been generally more clumsy lately and it's a real concern. My plan is to cut back on mileage and speed a little, wear a proper fitting and shaped shoe, and do more strength and running form work. It's no fun being knocked down but as they say, getting back up is the key. Best of luck to you!

    Tom
    Tlgreg - twitter

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  22. Yeah I am definitely reinforcing that Jill doesn't have to run bc of me at all - as a matter of fact more than once I offered to sponsor her with a 29er Moots for her next grand cycling adventure :) But there are a lot of things you can experience running as well, and I think she just likes the variety, and to challenge herself. During training we bike as much as we run, in general (at least when we're both healthy).

    As for not embracing cycling ... I am trying. I admit my progress cycling is much weaker than Jill's progress running. I am possibly the world's worst downhiller, and while I can run some super rugged stuff comfortably even moderately steep descents or dropoffs on a bike freak me out a lot. And unfortunately my back is not at all playing along with this either - usually there is pain to the level of numbness after even shortish rides - I am working on that, but it takes time (I have an old back injury and some very bad discs which makes a lot of stuff unpleasant for me, fortunately running not being one of them - for now!). It'll take me some time, but I still forsee some mountain/snow 100s and 24 hour races in my future ... at least :) But Jill knows I'll be happy to provide any support she needs for her to go on any bike adventure she wants!

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  23. My running journey began in fits and starts in fall 2009. I started trail running with my Juneau friends (who were mostly runners, not cyclists) while I was more than a little mentally burnt out on cycling after the Tour Divide. I move to Anchorage and decided I wanted to sign up for a few of Alaska Mountain Running races. I started training and quickly discovered how fantastically hard it is to actually race up and down a mountain. I moved away from Anchorage too soon to ever test my abilities in a race setting. For that I'm glad — I probably would have really hurt myself. Running is a much different movement than walking that I'm still essentially learning. I'm a strong hiker but I have yet to successfully apply much speed to my stride. I am consistent, though, and I have a large well of endurance. I decided I wanted to try my hand at "fast-hiking" mountain ultraruns, the longer and more climbing, the better. I actually had my sights somewhat set on the 2010 Bear 100 before I ever met Danni or Beat (only in a very non-serious way. I gave up on that pipe dream after seeing how hard runners had to work in the Swan Crest 100, then serendipitously ended up at the last half of the Bear 100 anyway.)

    This interest is what drew me as a volunteer to Danni's race, the Swan Crest 100 in July 2010. That's also where I met Beat. The meeting was really just a perfectly timed coincidence. My interest in running pre-dated my knowing Beat, although his influence has played a huge role in my development as a runner, in a good way.

    I still ride bikes way more than I run, which is one of the reasons I'm not improving all that quickly. I enjoy both activities, and want to continue to pursue running because it will provide me with the strengths and skills to pursue so many more adventures on my bucket list, which are trending toward long self-supported foot treks such as the Pacific Crest Trail. But I'll always be a bike tourist first, and likely glean the most day-to-day enjoyment and relaxation from riding my bikes. The fact that I can't ride right now I think is in no small part contributing to my crisis of confidence.

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  24. You'll pull through, You've done it many times before and surely many times to come. We all have ups and downs. I believe that challenges and the resulting rewards are what makes life worth living.

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  25. Anonymous7:32 PM

    Jill, I can appreciate the crisis of confidence issue. I'm having similar doubts right now regarding balance and coordination in my own sport. But as a regular reader, if I can make an observation: I think the biggest risk you carry isn't confidence or coordination, it's that you Can't Turn Off. Exhibit A is how quickly you were out running while trying to hold your arm in place to minimize the shooting pains. Why do that at all? You're a talented athlete, not at risk for ballooning up into a chubby by taking a week or two really OFF to let your body heal. What you are at risk off IMO is having something NEVER properly heal because you couldn't wait to get back out and stress/test yourself. Risk of that only gets bigger as you get older. The "R" in RICE does not stand for "Running". End of mini lecture.

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  26. Geoff Roes is probably more tuned in to what his body can or can't do than just about 99.9% of the people on this planet, so if he decided that he could not or should not finish the UTMB, I am sure it was for an excellent reason. Anyway, who are we to judge him? We skiers joke about the "skiing police" - those who criticize other skiers for not doing things the way they believe they should be done. Looks like there is a "running police" force out there too. Such a waste of time. Good for you, Jill, for defending your ex - shows a very healthy and happy attitude towards life. And GOOD LUCK healing. Do it your way and let the "healing police" sit and fume and second guess all they want. You'll figure it out eventually, I'm sure. Happy trails to all.

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  27. The confidence will return - it just takes time. I think the caution after an accident is our body's way of telling us not to make the same mistake again (especially since you're still healing, and have a sore arm) - your subconscious is just protecting you. In every sport where I've had the crisis (and it's after a particularly bad crash or fall, 9 times out of 10), I eventually come back stronger, and usually with better awareness and technique as a result.

    I sympathise with the downhill thing (and also Beat's comments about his back and the bike - I have that issue too sometimes!) - I used to be the worst downhill walker / runner, and a slide on a gravelly section would really freak me out. On a partuclarly gruesome descent one day, a more experienced friend started talking me through my stride and how I could make it more efficient. It seemed very counter-intuitive to me to lengthen my stride and loosen up rather than tip-toe my way down, but over time I've seen he was quite right (although God help me I still trip over *nothing* when I walk or run - it's just a joke how clumsy I can be!), and I've slowly improved. It's bloody hard to relax, when I feel tense, but it definitely helps me soak up the slips and slides before they can turn into a fall. In the end though, I think nothing helps so much as maintaining full concentration of your line and where your feet are going - exactly what you'd do on your bike! You'd never consider taking your eye off the trail on your bike when descending, but you do mention you got distracted by the hikers?

    Anyhoo - I'm sure you'll come back fighting as usual.

    As for DNF'ers - kudos to them for even starting the damn thing - who am I to criticise them for making an informed decision to stop! :o)

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  28. People like second-guessing the thoughts and motivations of others over the internet really don't deserve a response. However, as one of three people who (literally) stood witness to the meeting of Jill and Beat, its hard for me not to comment. Jill was very clearly interested in running. The way she rattled off questions at the two of us, one would never have guessed she previously dated one of the sports top runners. Perhaps the accomplishments of a couple more average athletes seemed more attainable (I know she can kick my ass up steep climbs). I would even go so far as to guess that part of the initial attraction was Beat's insistent encouragement of her stated desire to run a 100 miles expressed in his usual matter-of-fact tone and backed by that authoritative-sounding Swiss accent.

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  29. For those who may be interested in Geoff's DNF at the UTMB, he has now blogged on the subject .... http://akrunning.blogspot.com/2011/08/utmb-dnf-what-went-wrong.html

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  30. The sniping and condescending comments after UTMB really baffles me. Ridiculous.

    If I remember correctly, you yourself have admitted your relative inexperience as a runner. I'm a klutz and learned to run starting around age 37 and I was terrible at it. I'm still overly careful, but after 5 solid years of weekly trails, I have some confidence on very technical surfaces. Racing is a whole other level above that. So, don't be too hard on yourself, you'll get it.

    For me, lack of sleep is the killer, it destroys my balance. I probably would not do well in a 24-hour event!

    PS2 - Love the photos. If anyone needs to know why people trail run, those show it.

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  31. Anon,

    Not having met Jill personally, I can't say definitively about her desire to running, but I think it's not about Beat. If you gather nothing else from Jill's blog, it's this: She likes to push her physical limits over and over again. I think she is drawn to running BECAUSE it doesn't come easy.

    When I met my husband, both of us were runners. As we grew together and married, we fed off of each other's enthusiasm, finding harder and harder goals. I think of Jill and Beat in the same way, pushing each other to become better athletes. And there's nothing wrong with that.

    PS- I'm not a regular commenter, but I thought I'd also throw my unsolicited commentary in there too.

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  32. Girl, please. The reason you struggle at times is because you jump in and attempt new and enormous things that most people wouldn't even consider. And that's not a criticism...I think it's awesome. Amazing, even. And the only place you lack skill is when you put yourself up against the seriously experienced people you hang with, not compared to the rest of us mortals. :)

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