Ironically, I hate running. I grew up playing football, soccer, basketball, and baseball. I grew up focused on weightlifting, my vertical jump, and my 40-yard dash time. I used to watch the cross country and track teams during practice and think “people who run, as a sport, are just plain nuts!” Now, the tables have turned and I’m the crazy one. Let me explain.
In 2013, I got this crazy idea to sign up for the Wasatch 100-Mile Endurance Race, which is one of the few competitive things that a 41-year old has-been can do to see how he measures up against 300 of the most super-fit runners from across the country. Since then I’ve become known as the “100 mile guy”, which isn’t meant as a compliment. Marathons, now those are pretty cool. 100 mile ultra-marathon races, in the mountains, just plain stupid. My favorite reaction was from a peer of mine in the telecom industry that just looked at me and said “why would any sane person run 100 miles?” In fact, he interrupted the dinner table discussion twice (with 5 other colleagues) to turn the conversation back to “why Patrick, why?”
Since then, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on that same question. Do I tell the truth or do I just make a funny comment, or just plain tell people what they want to hear? The truth is, I’ve always been drawn to the hard things in life. Conquering the hard things allows me to tell the voice in my head, you know, the one that doubts you, the one that taunts you, the one that tells you you’re no good – yeah, that one – to go pound sand. It’s the same voice that told me that I’d never find a job after college, that Telarus would never make it getting into the game so late after its peers, that GeoQuote would never work, that I could never earn a CCNA certification in 4 days, and that my kids wouldn’t turn out. Maybe I’m alone. Maybe I need counseling. Or, maybe I’m like everyone else who struggles with doubt and insecurity.
But, in the absence of professional help, the only way I know to shut that little man up is to run. A lot. So, I signed up for the Wasatch 100 again and, low and behold, my name got selected in the lottery, again. I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad. I get this amazing chance to see if I’ve got what it takes, but now I’ve got try to come up with a defense, a catchy response to answer the question: “WTF are you thinking?”