The proverbial question and why run the Badger Mountain 100 Miler
We often ask ourselves why, why run daily, why race, why run 30,50 or 100 Miles. For me the answers to these questions have varied a lot over the years, more recently I have ran to give myself time to think as much as I have run to find a sense of adventure and a feeling of being connected to the world. As for why run the Badger Mountain 100, I decided to run it because the entry fee was comparatively cheap, it was within driving distance, I didn't have anything planned that weekend and it had 6 UTMB points. I have been wanting to run the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) for some time now as it has caught my imagination so I signed up for 3 races in 3 months to get the 15 UTMB points needed to enter the race (Black Canyon 100k, Badger Mountain 100 and The Canyons 100K).
A lot on my mind
I am going to warn you right now this post is as much about what has been on my mind lately as the race itself or running.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
I have been a member of the Mormon or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints my entire life and have been fully engaged and active in the Mormon church having taken two years off from school to serve a mission and having served as a lay clergy member in more recent years. I grew up in a small town in Northern Nevada and even made a list in high school of possible Mormon girls that I could date and ended up marrying my high school sweetheart who was on that list. Running and membership in the LDS church have been integral parts of who I am.
Running as a form of therapy
Nearly eight years ago now my wife left the LDS church. To say that this was difficult on the two of us would be a bit of an understatement. I used running as a form of therapy, I ran to have time to myself to think. Being all of a sudden in a mixed faith marriage put us at odds about what to teach our kids as we no longer had the same foundation. I have three kids and my wife and I make a good team raising them but for the longest time we were no longer close as we once had been and we both wondered how long our marriage would last. Interestingly enough during this same time period my wife took up running using it as a form of therapy as well and we found that we could still have enjoyable vacations and adventures together and with the kids.
First race being paced by Terrie my wife
As we were able to get a baby sitter for the weekend of the race Terrie came to pace me for the last 10 miles of the race. We drove up to the race in our Pilot and slept in the back of it at the starting line which was actually pretty fun. The race started at a leisurely time of 7 am just a few minutes after first light and I tried to go out as relaxed as possible. The three weeks prior to the race I had been struggling with a cold that had settled in my lungs, often having to stop for a coughing fit to get up some phlegm so having the race at an average elevation of about 2,000 feet was very helpful to me. I ran 3 to 4 miles here or there with another runner but for the most part of the race I ran alone with my thoughts hoping I could stay relaxed and be able to run the last 10 miles with Terrie. The miles just seemed to pass one after the other, at times I found myself looking forward to one of the 1500 feet climbs just to have a chance to hike for a bit even if it was extremely steep and would result in a 20-30 minute mile. I came through 50 miles in about 8:30 and sat down for 3-4 minutes before heading out to repeat the course for a second time. The second 50 I ran alone looking forward to when I could run with Terrie who was very cheery for starting a 10 mile run close to midnight.
Moving Forward with Confidence
I probably ran 15 of the 19 hours it took me to finish the race alone and it gave me a lot of time to come to terms with my decision to leave the LDS church. After a disagreement about tithing (a requirement of being in good standing in the LDS church is to pay 10% of your income to the church) with my wife a year ago we came to an impasse and we both thought our marriage would end. I simply wanted to live my faith and she no longer wanted to contribute to something she didn't believe in. For the longest time she had encouraged me to study the church's history and I felt confident in my faith and as the church strongly discourages members from reading "anti-mormon" literature I didn't want to and so didn't. At the same time I felt I knew the history of the church and had reconciled myself with some of the more difficult past practices of polygamy and denying black members full membership.
For the first time I allowed myself to be curious and to think about my faith and the difficulties that it was putting upon my relationship and family life. As I wanted to know more about the church but still wanted to stay away from books that could be considered "anti-mormon" I ended up reading Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling
which is written by a mormon historian and can be purchased at Deseret Book a church owned book store. I thought the book was very fair in its history trying to give all of the facts known about Joseph Smiths life and the beginning of the church. The history I found in the book was very different from what I was taught and left me no longer thinking that the church could be true.
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
During the race I thought a lot about my association with the church as I had participated in countless youth activities including dances, backpacking trips and church basketball tournaments in addition to religious ceremonies such as baptism. I have a lot of good memories and have made good friends and I didn't want to disappoint my mother who has always been a support to me. While running I was able to come to terms with leaving the church as I hadn't participated because I thought it a good social club, I had participated because I thought it God's one and only true church and I had now seen the evidence against that. Coming to peace with a decision sometimes takes time.
The last 10 miles of the Badger Mountain 100 were by far the highlight of the run for me. Terrie who had a nap prior to pacing me was very cheery and pretty talkative the whole time. I was also still moving fairly well running about 9:30 mile pace on a couple flat miles and was able to run on gradual uphill miles which was a big improvement over my last 100 miler. The race was fun but having Terrie crew and pace me is what I will remember most.
If any LDS or other friends want to talk about my change of faith I am a fairly open book, hit me up for a run sometime or PM me if running isn't your cup of tea.