This past weekend I traveled to Maine to participate in the Last Man Standing Ultramarathon. I competed last year and had such a memorable experience, I decided to give it another go! The course is a 4.2-mile trail loop with moderate elevation gain.
The first “race” started at noon on Saturday. Runners were allowed to complete the course at whatever pace they chose, but they had to complete the loop in less than 60 minutes! Those that completed the course in under an hour earned the right to continue. The next loop started at 1pm sharp. Same loop, same rules. The race continued in this format until there was only one athlete remaining, and thus, declared the Last Man Standing.
To be clear, I had no intention of being the Last Man Standing… I went to run my own race, to enjoy the experience, and make new memories. My focus was on being my best… not the best.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to complete more loops than I did last year (9 loops, 38 miles). However, I really tried hard to detach from any preconceived result. Which was not easy. But focusing on the process and not the outcome is an area I’ve aimed to improve in my own life for the past several years and it’s one of the foundational strategies I teach in my work.
As the brilliant Peter Crone likes to say, ‘Be fully committed, completely detached.’ In other words, be fully committed to giving it my all, but completely detached from whatever happened. Thus, my mindset going in was, ‘Whatever I do, I do.’
Therefore, my goal was to give my best effort, have my best attitude, be present, and thoroughly enjoy the entire experience!
I’m proud to report, I accomplished all 4 goals!
I ended up completing 10 loops (42 miles), I felt great while doing it, and I had so much fun!
You know what was even better than that? I got to reunite with an old friend from college (shout out to Dennis Ahern), reconnect with a one of my favorite people on earth (hat tip to Michael Caron), finally meet his lovely wife (fist bump to Ashley Caron), and share this epic weekend with a previous speaking client and new friend for life (giant hug to John Webster, who also participated and at the ripe age of 61, crushed an impressive 8 loops!).
Now, to make sure you benefit from my experience….
Here are my top 7 takeaways, lessons, and thoughts from Last Man Standing:
- I do events like this because I enjoy having something on my calendar to look forward to, I love having something to train for, and I’m always looking to learn more about myself.
- I readily acknowledge that I am a novice in the ultra-endurance world. And I love doing things that I am a rookie at – I find it equal parts humbling and invigorating!
- To many people’s surprise, I don’t even enjoy running! I’m serious. But I do enjoy being outside, I do enjoy listening to podcasts (I easily listened to 100+ hours during my training), I do enjoy the quest for self-improvement, and I do enjoy the satisfaction I feel when I finish a long run.
- As I reflected on the past several months, I did more long distance running than at any other point in my life. I averaged running 4 times per week, with three shorter runs of 4-8 miles and one longer run of 12-16 miles each week (total weekly mileage averaging between 24-40 miles). Which for me, was a lot. When I spoke to a few other participants, as well as some of their coaches, I quickly learned that many of participants that completed 12-15+ loops, had weekly training mileage that doubled or tripled mine. If I desire to run 50+ miles at some point, I will have to significantly up my training. Which means a massive time investment. I will need to decide if I want to make that level of commitment/sacrifice.
- If I decide to go all in, and aim to run 50+ miles, I will hire a coach to map out a detailed training/nutrition plan. I’ve gotten as far as I can on my own limited knowledge.
- In every area of life, you need to learn to run your own race and not get sucked into playing the Comparison Game. It’s a game you can’t win. Take this past weekend, I can feel proud that I ran a personal all-time best of 42 miles, or I can feel dejected because I didn’t make more improvement over last year or because so many people ran further that I did (and the winner ran 3 times more than I did!). I choose to feel proud. They ran their race, I ran mine.
- When you push yourself, in any are of your life, it will force you to confront the inevitable negative self-talk. The question is, how do you respond? What do you ‘say back’ when that little voice inside is full of negativity? While I still have a way to go, I am getting so much better at managing negative self-talk. I’m getting better at silencing my inner critic and choosing to ignore (and not believe) anything I say to myself that doesn’t serve me! This will be a lifelong endeavor.
So what’s next for me? For starters, I’ve already signed up to participate again next year! I plan to make this an annual event. As mentioned above, I just need to decide how seriously I want to take this ultra-endurance ‘stuff.’ I plan to take a few weeks to decide! Prior to that, I will most certainly put a few more things on the calendar to look forward to and hold me over.
In the meantime, I will continue to consistently strength train and run shorter distances (4-6 miles) to maintain the body of a 24-year-old Swedish lifeguard…