What to wear…?!

Competitor Magazine Fall Shoe Review

What to Wear…?!

by Patrick Reed

“There is no ‘or’ in long distance running. To attempt is honor; to line up is victory.”

Just 36 hours until the gun sounds – releasing us blissful creatures called ultra runners into our dreamy worlds of oblivion, pain, distance, and energy- and fluid-monitoring. Though there are dozens of variables I might be anxiety-channeling on at the moment, I am captivated by clothes and lights and camping stoves, coolers and buffs and… my kids! Yes, I must really be snagged by the ultra-culture. Even a year ago, I would be ogling the tiny screws that hold together my Nike-plus watch and googling ways to off-load specific iTunes mixes into my iPod Nano. Yet, this evening I discover myself considering between this torn pair of shorts and that and over that wasted couple which dares call itself a pair of running shoes — despite its twin spouses’ scuffed uppers and evidently insufficient soles…

I am becoming obsessed by less — and my marketing/graphic design buddy’s mantra of “Patrick, less really is more!” is seeming all of the sudden like the fitting title for a 32nd chapter of Proverbs.

Yeah — I am wanting less. A single small duffel, if even that. One perfect food source, maybe bean burritos. Create one and replicate it. When hunger hits, no choice necessary. In the race, I will bring nothing along. Scant shorts, light shoes, no water, one goo. The aid stations will suffice from there. Shall I bring my everpresent iPhone? — which I use to track my daily distance runs, heart rate at every moment, and which streams in an infinite store of podcasts, novels and fiction-less titles, too, in an oblivious stream of data, half of which I cannot hear as I constantly navigate my also ever-streaming worries and the incessant obstacles of the trail… If I could have it my way this time around, I would bring nothing to the race.

“Less is more and Misery is memorable.”

And I am becoming obsessed by more. More miles, more kilometers!

Indeed, during today’s morning run – sun incubating my soul as I strode relaxedly along Laguna lake, through waist-high meadow grass, beside chestnut foals and their new proud parents – I began to rationalize an email to race director (and friend) Luis Escobar: “Can I change my entry from the 50k to the 100k? I think now’s the time to just run the 100k. 50 is too short. It will be all racing, no enjoying. All business and no laughing; no being in the moment. All striving to get it done instead of striving to experience the run….” I was convinced. I will run 62 miles on Saturday. What’s 30 extra miles, anyway? Yes, the ultra culture has a hold on me…

But then I de-levitate back to the culture of safety, devoid of daring. Back to TV-land USA, where the wise choice, the safe choice is to sit astride the couch, chips in hand, soda at my right hand – kids, too – and watch mind-numbing situational comedies or situational golf tourneys with their elegant quips from coiffed pundits ad infinitum.

The culture’s common sense hearkens: “Patrick, less is more. Run a couple times a week. Maybe even every weekday, but take a break every once in a while! Everything in moderation…..”

No. I want More. If less is more, I want more, I want the more part of less. I want to run further. I want to run Badwater. I want to run 100k the day after tomorrow. I continue my email to Luis: “Here’s a solution: How about I compete in the 50, and then I just continue running afterwards. Will you give me the go-ahead? I will maybe just run another 30+ miles, if I am feeling it…? Deal?” Only problem with this type of reasoning is reality. When mile 45 comes, and no hardened goal is established, when the discomfort — a polite term — wells up, who on earth is going to persevere into an unmeasured pursuit? More is fine on paper, but in reality, more needs a framework.

And so I digress to clothes. Whatever distance I run, clothes will be an important component of my raceday process. And my jersey and socks are already picked out. Remember that I already languished over the arrival of those components of my kit in another post from last week? It is only shorts which need challenge me now. And I have a sleek pair of satin, black running shorts which will be a perfect match for what will certainly be a perfect outing. After all, come rain, come shine, come pain, ease of the whole race, or injury… Come what may, we ultra runners share one confidence amongst our diverse shared knowledge: Less is more and Misery is memorable.

I’ll let you in on a secret: It doesn’t matter what you wear. What truly matters is how you are clothed at the race’s finish: in glorious accolades for courage or… Ah, there is no “or” in long distance running. To attempt is honor. To line up is victory.

Run strong and courageous!


image credit: phoenixparkrun