On Fridays I like to share experiences I’ve had during the week with patients and in my personal life that I’ve found significant. I like to share them in hopes that you might find value in them and have something resonate with you in your life.
Note: This Saturday I will be running my 100-mile race, the Rocky Raccoon 100. As a result, this 5 Spot deals with thoughts and experiences I’ve had in the build up to the race.
Something cool. Last week I went for a short 4-mile run in the morning. About a mile in, I noticed a coyote about 15 feet away. I ran toward him and assumed he would just run away, but he did not. He ran next to me (about twenty feet away) for nearly 2 miles. A couple times I thought I’d lost him but I would come around a corner and he’d be standing there almost waiting for me to catch up. As odd as it may sound, as we ran near one another I felt as though it were some sort of a sign.
I posted a picture of the coyote on my Facebook page and had a handful of people send me links to information on the coyote as a spirit animal, which after reading, made me think even more that it was a sign. The information they sent said “The coyote represents survival, adaptability, tenacity, and cleverness. If you feel down or like you’re over your head, the coyote spirit can show you how to get back on your feet. Coyote energy is all about tapping into who you really are.” I am no expert on these matters, but I can tell you that run felt special and somehow gave me greater confidence going into my race.
Something I’ve been thinking back on. There are a group of players that I have coached in football since age 7 that are now young teenagers. We have always had good teams but could never seem to get over the hump and win the championship. Last year over the last few weeks of the season I began telling them “It’s our time boys.” Repeatedly I would remind them of this to try and get them to forget some of our difficult defeats of the past and stay focused on the present. I wanted them to understand they were worthy and deserving of success. In the end, it was our time, and we won our first title.
This has meaning to me now as I attempt my third 100-mile race. I failed in two previous attempts at this distance (I missed time cutoffs at mile 50 and mile 90 respectively). Those ghosts are always circling when I think about finally finishing a race of this magnitude. To deal with that, I began talking to myself like I did my team. Rather than worry about the past, I just remind myself how prepared I am in the present and that “it’s my time.” There are no guarantees, but this mindset can only lead to better outcomes.
Something that will motivate me this weekend. In July 2021, I ran a local race that went from 7pm to 7am on a Friday night and consisted of repeating, 11-mile loops over difficult terrain. My sister was training for her first marathon at that time, happened to be in town visiting, and decided to run with me. She completed two loops totaling twenty-two miles and was so thrilled because she had never run that far before! After she finished her two laps, I was having stomach issues, so I stopped and rested with her in our tent. She assumed my race was done, so when I got up to leave, I remember her commenting on my toughness and her saying how much she admired me which was nice.
Five to six hours later as I was near the end of the race, I came around a corner maybe a half mile from the finish line and my sister was there smiling and waiting for me. She said “Matty, you are amazing. You’re my hero.” My sister went back to Texas the next day with her family and as it turned out, it was the last time I would see her alive. When I race this weekend, I will picture my sister being up around the next bend like she was on that day. I can cover a lot of miles from that one memory alone.
Why would you want to run 100-miles? One day in July, I awoke with so much grief that I felt like someone had stood on my chest all night. I was struggling to deal with sudden losses of my brother-in-law (and great friend) in 2020 and my baby sister less than two years later in May 2022. Too many people rely on me for me to just shut down and quit on life, but I was hurting. Somehow, I stumbled across a race that fell on my brother in laws birthday and was in Texas where my sister lived. I signed up because instinctively I felt it would help me heal, though I was unsure how.
Six months later, I can tell you that the journey that brought me to this race was my ultimate destination. I enjoyed every second of my training, regardless of how tough it was. Through countless tears and thoughts for these special people, I began to repair some of the parts of me that were broken.
My mantra from day one was “For Sam. For Sarah. Forever.” That mantra is why I’m running these 100-miles, and why I ran over one thousand to get here. This race is for Sam Clark, a great man and friend I miss daily. It’s for Sarah Kenney, my sister who was always there for me even at my worst and achieved amazing things most only dream of. And it’s forever, because this time between the three of us will be mine to cherish forever.
Some quotes I love.
“My momma used to say, ‘you’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on’, and I think that’s what my running was all about.” – Forrest Gump
“And it feels right this time, on his crash course with the big time.” – Metallica, No Leaf Clover
“Every great champion, has one great fight left in him.” – Larry Merchant
“All you have is your fire, and the place you need to reach.” – Hozier, Arsonist’s Lullaby
“I gotta go out the way I gotta go out.” – Rock Balboa