Terms of Endurement
By Andrew McLean

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Originally published by Patagonia

Eighty miles into the race the significance of the name finally dawns on me - The Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Race. Running is merely the medium, enduring is the goal. ďHow would you like your pain today sir?Ē Long and drawn out please with a double helping of hills, blazing heat, midnight rain and some mud on the side. Hold the mayo - Iím watching my figure.

Endurance is a world unto itself. While being physically fit doesnít hurt, the real battle takes place in your mind. Itís a constant balancing act of monitoring the basic essentials - mind, body & spirit - to try to figure out if youíre really hurt or just being a wimp. You dig as deep into your reserves as possible, trying to find little hidden pockets of hope in things as simple as a clean pair of socks or the soothing sounds of a cool creek.

When blisters, cramps, exhaustion or dehydration catch up to you, the party is over and the true essence of endurance comes into play. That little warm spot on your toe becomes a searing blister that demands attention. Thoughts of quitting drift through your mind until you realize that youíre getting what you signed up for. Everyone feels like quitting at some point. Everyone has good and bad moments. Everyone covers the same distance.

Knowing that it will end is inspiration in itself. After twenty straight hours, running becomes all you know. Habitude, the ability to keep on keeping on, fuels the last few miles as you run on. The past 24 hours seem like a lifetime when you think back over how far youíve come, until suddenly, itís over. You can stop. A slow rush of happiness settles around you as you try to decide what to do next. Sit down? Stretch? Drink some water? Better yet, maybe just savor the feeling of being alive and standing barefoot in the cool grass with a group of friends, laughing at it all.

Copyright - Andrew McLean Back to Writings Index