Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Risk of Failure

I read an interesting article several months ago (I don't remember the magazine or the author) about the allure of the possibility of failure.  The article rails against the trend in western society and the education system in particular in respect to the many structures that have been implemented to minimize the risk of failure.  We don't score many youth sports events so nobody loses, we change academic grading scales to do away with the F, we lower standards, we decrease expectations, and on and on.  Despite this trend, or maybe in response to it, the most difficult ultrarunning events are often the hardest to get in to.  There is a thrill in the challenge of attempting something when you have no guarantee of success.  When I read this article, I found it interesting and inspiring, but I also realized that I was not really excited about the prospect of not finishing a race.  I was proud to have completed every race that I had started and I had achieved many of the time goals that I had set for myself.  I had never stood at a starting line and thought that there was a real possibility that I might not make it to the finish line.

Then last July after 65 miles of getting lost and off course, extreme heat, ridiculous climbs and a lot of frustration, I dropped from the Grand Mesa 100.  It was a huge blow to my pride and confidence as a runner.  I still think about it and wonder if I should have kept going.  So a month later I went up to South Dakota and ran another 100 and finished running a 3 hour course PR.  Two months ago I stood on the starting line in Leadville confident that I would make it to the finish and hoping to do it in under 25 hours.  23 hours later I ran out of time at mile 76.5 and my race was over.

I have attempted the 100 mile distance four times and only made it to the finish twice and I have yet to finish a true mountain 100.  So facing those facts, I decided to take the risk again.



But this time I am going to finish.

10 comments:

  1. No doubt you'll have a great race, Alex. It's that time of year, isn't it, planning out the big adventure for 2012. I'm stilling thinking on mine.

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  2. You're gonna finish this time, Alex. Your commitment and discipline never cease to amaze me. I look forward to being part of your crew and maybe even pace you into the finish like at Leanhorse.

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  3. Way to get back on the horse, Alex!

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  4. Best luck next year in Leadville Alex! It's those battles that you don't win right away that tend to be the sweetest.

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  5. You're going to be awesome at Leadville, Alex. Imagine all that you learned from your experience last year; it's only going to make you stronger.

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  6. You were amazing and brave and strong this year, and you fought an inspirational battle. I hope I get to crew for your crew again next year!

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  7. Woooo Hooo! Congratulations!! You're going to be fantastic!

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  8. Hats off, Alex! You are going to make it! You are half way there already. The risk of failure - it is just one side of the coin called a dream. The other side is the risk that the dream will come true. :-) The fear of failure, on the other hand, is a part of the quest. It prevents the self-confidence from becoming arrogance. Your quest itself is not a coin toss, it's not about which side of the coin will be on top when it lands. Fear of many things except this one!

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