Two Saturdays ago I set out on a run with a couple of friends in the Whiskeytown hills. We were planning on being gone for about 3 and 1/2 hours but after about 3 hours we realized how depressingly far we were from our end point. Right about then, I lost a battle in my mind. I began to hate running. I was angry that we were so far away, fearful that we were drinking out of a stream because we had no water and defeated about the hills that were bound to be awaiting us.
Up until this point in my life, I've never lost a mental battle like this in sports. If I set my mind to something, I accomplish it. This time, I slipped. My thoughts began to take me places that I couldn't pull out of. I was desperate. There were several hills we came to that made me want to weep. All I wanted to do was lay down and cry until someone came and rescued me. I have never felt so mentally defeated in my life. After walking for miles, we were picked up at mile 24 and had been on our feet for 5 hours and 5 minutes.
That was an important run. It taught me that I can get through desperate times as long as I don't let my mind spin out of control. It taught me how important water and calories are. It taught me that I'm not a quitter.
Fast forward to today. We set out on the same run today. I had my mind made up that I would not quit and that I would finish the run. I maintained my hydration and calorie intake and decided that pace didn't matter, finishing did. The run was difficult, just like I remembered. But I finished the full 25.5 miles and crushed my time from a couple of weeks back finishing in 4 hours and 50 minutes.
The hell run made me stronger. Mentally stronger. Physically stronger.