5 Lessons (re)Learned at the Cocodona 250
5 Lessons (re)Learned at the Cocodona 250

5 Lessons (re)Learned at the Cocodona 250

On May 6th at 5:10 am, 280 participants embarked on a remarkable journey from Black Canyon City to Flagstaff, Arizona, on foot. Alongside both old and new friends, I had a wonderful time in Arizona. Here, I will reveal five lessons rediscovered during my grand adventure.

  • If at first you don’t succeed...

I struggled during the initial 36 hours, feeling out of sync and exhausted over the first 90 miles. Despite sleeping on the trail and at aid stations, and eating constantly, nothing seemed to work. Approaching mile 91, I decided to give it one more try before giving up. Remembering a tip about a full stomach and rest, I followed that advice. Although it took time, once I started moving again, I began to relax and run. Surprisingly, I managed to run a significant portion of the remaining 160 miles. Persevering and trying everything, I eventually worked through the challenges. Success comes from giving it your all and never giving up.

  • Trust in your training:

The negative self-talk grew louder with each passing mile during those initial 90 miles over 36 hours. Thoughts like "I didn't train enough," "I'm not cut out for this challenging course," "Today isn't my day," and "I can't do this" echoed in my mind.

Whether negative or not (which they certainly were!), these are just thoughts. We have the ability to control and alter these thoughts by changing our perspective. I began to contemplate the training I had put in to reach this point – the late nights, early mornings, long runs, and consecutive sessions that I completed. Trusting in my preparation allowed me to transform the narrative. "I put in the effort," "I have overcome greater challenges," "I belong here." This shift marked the turning point from a dreary and discouraging day to one filled with purpose and ease.

  • Roll with the punches:

Life is unpredictable, and having a detailed master plan can lead to adjustments along the way. In my opinion, ultra runners who excel are those who can think creatively to solve problems. During a particular situation where we expected to refill a liter of water but were told there was only half available, my fellow participants expressed frustration and worry. I immediately sprang into action, calculating a solution similar to a classic word problem. By determining how much water I had left and the distance to the next water source, I realized I could ration 200 ml per mile for the next 4 miles. This quick thinking exemplifies the importance of adapting to unexpected challenges in life and events like this. And it was plenty of water to move forward with.

  • Get out of your own skin:

I aimed to make new friends at this event, and I can proudly say it's another goal achieved. While I shared miles with my existing friends from the ultra community, I also spent time with new acquaintances. Engaging with fellow athletes and hearing about their journeys in ultra running was truly inspiring and helped me reconnect with my beginnings. Exchanging stories on the trail while in motion is always a special experience. In these moments, we often let our guard down, leading to deep and meaningful conversations that forge lifelong friendships. Initially, when I was beginning my journey to sobriety, I struggled to engage in such interactions comfortably, but now, I can confidently say it has vastly improved.

  • Be comfortable being alone:

During most of the event, I managed with just one driver who assisted me by moving my truck from aid station to aid station until mile 211. While interacting with fellow athletes and sharing stories and camaraderie, I also had a secondary objective for this experience. My aim was to find peace of mind and spend quality time with myself. Surprisingly, I found great pleasure in solitude, relishing both the highs and lows of the journey. Instead of constantly seeking external connections through my phone, I chose to introspect and embrace my own thoughts and identity. Building a strong relationship with oneself ensures you are never truly alone.

 

I was successful on this journey but sometimes the success is in the process. I truly enjoy the process of progress on the trail and beyond. Thanks for reading!

Coach Brian