Get Over Being Over It

Sometimes we’re just over it, and we need to get over that too.

By on January 28, 2022 | Leave a reply

AJW's TaproomI’ve observed something over the last year or so of living through the COVID-19 pandemic. As life has dragged on, new variants have popped up, restrictions have come and gone, and the world has incessantly debated masks and vaccines, more and more people I know have become fed up with it all. One of the most common refrains I’ve heard, especially over the past few months, is, “I am so over it!”

Of course, this is understandable. The fatigue and collective exhaustion the pandemic has wrought has spared no one. It’s no wonder so many people just want to throw up their hands and give up, or even worse, give in. It is in this context that I am once again reminded, like I was in October of 2020 in my article on patience, of how skills honed over years of running rugged trail races and ultramarathons can prepare us for some of life’s most difficult challenges.

Scotland - Isle of Skye inlet

A view of homes on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Photo: Alex Potter

My best year of ultrarunning was 2007. I was 39 years old, lived in a small mountain town at 6,000 feet elevation in Idaho, had been uninjured for an entire year, and had been running ultras just long enough to feel confident in my abilities.

Early in the year, I decided on an ambitious racing schedule, in addition to running my beloved Western States 100 in June, I would attempt to finish three other 100-mile races, the Vermont 100 Mile in July, the Grand Teton 100 Mile in September, and the Javelina Jundred Mile in October. It wasn’t the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning but for me, it was about as close as I was going to get.

At Western States, we were blessed with benign conditions and I enjoyed a good day finishing in 17:20. Three weeks later, I managed to achieve a career goal of mine at Vermont and squeezed in to finish in under 16 hours — with iRunFar’s very own Bryon Powell as my pacer! Then, in Wyoming, just six weeks after Vermont, I ran the now-defunct Grand Teton 100 Mile, a fantastic event staged at the Grand Targhee Resort, and squeezed in a shade under 20 hours. Needless to say, going into the Javelina Jundred Mile at the end of October, I was running on fumes.

My entire family and I made the trip down to Phoenix, Arizona for the race. We had lived there a decade earlier and wanted to visit our son’s birthplace. Additionally, the desert trails are always delightful at the end of October, and in just a few short years the race organization of the Javelina Jundred had created a wonderful event. Everything was in place for a triumphant end to my long season. Except it turned out to be not entirely triumphant.

Scotland - Isle of Skye - Old man of storr trail

Snow covering the peaks leading up to the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Photo: Alex Potter

From the early miles, I knew I was in for a long day. The desert floor heated up earlier than usual, and I felt like I was running in sand for the first three loops. By the time I got back to the start/finish area after my fifth loop, which, at the time was about the 70-mile mark, I was cooked. I slumped in a chair, looked up at my wife, Shelly, and my kids, and quietly uttered, “I am so over this.”

Shelly looked me straight in the eye and without hesitation said simply, “Get over being over it.” And proceeded to quietly and quickly fill my bottles, stuff my pockets full of gels, firmly pull me out of the chair, and then subtly direct me toward the aid station exit.

I admit, the first mile out of there I was furious and frustrated. But heck, what could I do? There was no way I could turn around and give up, not after that public admonishment. So, I did all I could really think to do: I put my head down and ran.

Slowly, the feeling of dread slipped away, and as night fell on the desert I began to feel a slight surge of energy. By the time I picked up James Bonnett, who would be pacing me for the last 10 miles, I even had a little spring in my step. Once I got back to the finish line, I was overcome with joy. I had successfully gotten over being over it.

Today, I see that many of us feel like we are at mile 70 of a 100-mile race. We are far enough into the race that we are worn out and tired. Yet we are not close enough to the finish to “smell the barn.” Many of us probably want to just stay in the comfort of the aid station and give up. But here’s the thing: we have to forge on.

As much as we are exhausted, frustrated, and angry, we owe it to ourselves and the world – just as I owed it to my tough-love wife and kids on that October afternoon in the Arizona desert – to get up out of the chair, steel our eyes on the trail ahead, and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

This week’s Beer of the Week comes from North Mountain Brewing Company in Phoenix, Arizona. Known for their classic beers, North Mountain has outdone themselves with their Spiral Man Oatmeal Stout. Brewed in the classic Irish tradition, Spiral Man is a deep, dark, and smoky stout with a hint of coffee. It’s just the right beer for a frigid winter evening.

Call for Comments

  • Who supports you and helps you to pull your head out when you’re “over it,” like AJW’s wife, Shelly, did for him?
  • In what other ways have the attributes we have developed through trail running and ultrarunning helped us in life, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Scotland - The Cobbler trail

Fog covers the peaks en route to The Cobbler near Loch Lomond in Scotland. Photo: Alex Potter

Andy Jones-Wilkins

finished in the top 10 men at the Western States 100 7-straight times. He's sponsored by Patagonia and Drymax socks and is iRunFar's editorialist.