Letters to Myself During a 100 Mile Run

An ultramarathon is 1/5 human vs. nature and the remaining 4/5 human vs. self.

When going into a battle such as the 100–which could last anywhere from 20 – 31 hours 38 minutes 20 seconds–it is beneficial for the present self to bring in the past self as an ally for combating the grouchy future self.

With this in mind, I wrote myself a variety of letters for different checkpoints in the LOViT 100 Mile Run which I knew would be low moments for me.

I relied on these more than I care to admit. It’s hard to say: “you just don’t understand me!” to me like I can to my parents.

Without further ado. I present:

Letters To Myself During a 100 Mile run


On the Eve

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Dearest Josie,

I want you to know that you are the 1%. It’s not finishing that’s the brave thing, it’s showing up to the starting line. It’s registering to run 100 freaking miles in the first place. It’s choosing to run 100 miles even when people tell you to be patient, work up to it better, you have to have a longer training plan, you’re too young to be good at this distance.

But you did it anyways.

And that qualifies you as brave.

The demons are going to come, and you’ve got to be ready for them. They are going to whisper to you: you didn’t train long enough. You don’t have enough experience. Everyone thinks so. They are going to ask you: Who are you to do this? What qualifies you to do this?

Well, I’ve got an answer for them:

The 1,250+ miles qualifies you. Waking up each morning at 4:46 qualifies you. Logging back-to-back long runs qualifies you. Running 4 miles every 4 hours for 42 hours two weekends in a row qualifies you.

Registering for this race qualifies you.

Showing up at the starting line. Qualifies you.

You are qualified.

You belong there.

You are going to stand on that starting line and you must know that you’re going to finish. You might not want to, but you must know this. You’re going to get smacked around. Hard. Your feet are going to hurt, quads are going to get trashed, your shoulders will be sore.

But you’re going to take it.

You gut it down.

You deal with it.

And then you push it the hell away.

When you’re feeling like crap, it’s going to suck ruthlessly. Push it away.

Have faith.

Do you doubt how much you want this? You cry at the end of every freaking ultrarunning movie. Every one of them. When those runners go into the chute after finishing 100 miles, you are sobbing right along with them.

Love you,
Josie.

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At Tompkins Bend / mile 13

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Doing new things invariably means obstacles. A new path is, by definition, uncleared. Only with persistence and time can we cut away the debris and remove impediments. Only in struggling with the impediments that made others quit can we find ourselves on untrodden territory–only by persistence and resisting can we learn what others were too impatient to be taught.

Remain convinced. Persist and remain.

Song: “Cocaine Jesus” by Rainbow Kitten Surprise

Oh the times that we believed
In a Cocaine Jesus in a black four-seater
Got a man, don’t need him, but you wait
Call me when you want, or just call me when you need it
If you only ever need it for the day, today


At Tompkins Bend / mile 25

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There’s no need to sweat this or feel rushed. No need to get upset or despair. You’re not going anywhere–you’re not going to be counted out. You’re in this for the long haul.

Song: “My Shot” from Hamilton

Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot


At Crystal Springs Pavilion / mile 47

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There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.

Just because your mind tells you that something is awful or evil or unplanned or otherwise negative doesn’t mean that you have to agree. We decide what story to tell ourselves.

Song: “Wilder Mind” by Mumford

With a silver crystal on
How well you used to know how to shine
In the place that’s safe from harm
I had been blessed with a wilder mind


At Spillway / mile 62

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Consider this mindset:
Never in a hurry
Never worried
Never desperate
Never stopping short

There’s no need to sweat this or feel rushed. No need to get upset or despair. You’re not going anywhere–you’re not going to be counted out. You’re in this for the long haul.

Song: “Run Boy Run” by Woodkid

Run boy run! This ride is a journey to
Run boy run! The secret inside of you
Run boy run! This race is a prophecy
Run boy run! And disappear in the trees


At Spillway / mile 68

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“I had the idea to be one, and that’s what I did” ←- US ULTRARUNNING 🙂

Think of Tarzan swinging from the trees and pitying all the weak humans for the things he can do. Think about him yelling through the forest after each kill. Think about how he could not be civilized. Channel Tarzan, man, channel him.

Song: “Caroline” by Anime

Listen man
What’s up?
I heard you done got you a dime piece, man
Hell naw, man
One of the Beyoncé, Meagan Good types
Nah, nah, nah
Is that true, man?
I just wanna know
Probably not
I mean, shit, to be honest with you, man, she’s a–


At Crystal Springs Pavilion / Mile 83

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Genius is just persistence in disguise.

Their genius was unity of purpose, deafness to doubt, and the desire to stay at it.

After all, you’re probably not going to die from this. It might help you to say it over and over again. I am not going to die. I am not going to die.

Song: “Timsel” by Mumford and Sons

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we’ll hold your hand
Hold your hand



Most of the quotes come from The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday, a book of modern day adaptations of stoic philosophy.

The pictures come from memories and people who, upon a glance, fill me with such love and such presence of character that I tingle from head-to-toe. The songs are some of my favorites, or come from particular events in my life which again, send the tingles.

The song “Caroline” by Anime in particular.

Katie and I were on the bus going from Essouria to Marrakech (yet again going to Marrakech, for the third time). We always shared music on these long bus rides. I had in one of the headphones in my ear already, and she had the other one in her hand.

She wanted to show me a song (“Caroline”), but she was talking with the woman across the aisle from us, who had asked her a question about something or other. Katie had already hit play on her phone, so the song was beginning and only I could hear it, I who had the earbud in.

Instead of Katie pausing the song until she was finished with her conversation, she kept hitting the back button to restart it.

So I got the extreme pleasure of listening to

Listen man–

Listen man–

Listen–

Listen ma–

Listen man–

Lis–

Lis–

Listen man–

Until I could take it no more and shoved Katie out of the bus window.

I’m just kidding.  This was abominably amusing to me, and when I took the earbud out from my noggin and shared this with Katie, the pair of us collapsed into giggles and the woman sitting across the aisle moved to the front of the bus.

And therefore “Caroline” became sort of an anthem.

Many of the songs I selected for my various letters contain memories like that. The pictures the same. These things united past and present Josie to defeat the grouchy future Josie very well.

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

4 thoughts on “Letters to Myself During a 100 Mile Run

  1. I found your site via Al Humphreys – and for whatever reason, you arrived at a time when I really needed to hear a story like this. Thank you so, so much for sharing xx

    Like

  2. I love this idea. And the quotes. May use both, and will share – I know someone who is struggling a bit just now. Thanks!

    Like

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About Josie

I run slowly through forests, eat spoonfuls of Jif's Natural creamy peanut butter, and perpetually wear a fuzzy Patagonia sweater I found for $1.50 at a charity shop in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I deal in trees, breeze, and threes. I'm not interested in being normal. I'm not looking to pass GO. I'm not looking for anything other than breathable freedom.