by “Sherpa” John Lacroix
I started running Ultramarathons in 2005, and at the time my family and friends all thought it was just “the next big thing” on my list of things to take on. They truly felt like I would run a few ultras, accomplish my goals and then move on to the “next big thing.” To this day, nothing can be further from the truth. Ultrarunning has become “THE THING” in my life. It has brought me a wealth of experiences, knowledge, and metaphors to use in my everyday life. Ultrarunning is hard though. No really, not just from a training and racing perspective, but from a mental perspective. We give so much to do what we do. We sacrifice time with our immediate family and friends. We miss out on BBQ’s…or choose to run the 30 miles to the BBQ and arrive late. The training, the sacrifices, the racing; it all can be very taxing on an ultra runner.
DNF’s in our sport are inevitable. For the first many years that I ran ultras I crossed the finish line of everything. Until I finally DNF’d. Suddenly, Did Not Finish turned into Did Nothing Fatal. It became OK to walk away from a race. Mostly because after 35 ultras, I had nothing left to prove. I lost my direction. Lost my drive. I had run so much and ran in so many races and events (Western States, Leadville, Vermont, Massanutten, Barkley) that I was running out of any real reason to train or strive for better. I grew complacent with my training and I eventually burned out. I attempted the Grand Slam of Ultra Running in 2010 and after being so incredibly undertrained, I out at Leadville. I returned to Leadville in 2011 and finished the race, but DNF’d others. In 2012, I finally realized at mile 66 of the Bighorn 100, that I needed a break. I was burnt out, looking for purpose, reason, and drive…so I walked away. I took 5 months off from Ultra running and did NO RUNNING at all. I ballooned to 185 pounds and started to look for “it” again.
Finally, at the end of 2012, I had the itch again. I set a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) to lose 25 pounds and return to Vermont to finish my 5th Vermont 100. Not only did I lose the weight, but I set a Personal Best for 100-miles in under 23 hours. So 2014 was a no brainer, return to Big Horn and get redemption there as well. If nothing else, to get a Hardrock qualifier to continue my quest of bucket list races. Below is a short film chronicling my journey. Click to watch: