Ignore The Noise

Superior 100 mile race crosses the Temperance River.

This past Saturday, I had run all the previous day and night and was into the second day of my 18th Superior 100-mile race.

I came into it with a pulled hamstring and a fraction of my usual training, but after struggling through the first 20 miles, things had smoothed out and were going well.

I reached Mile 86 on the bridge high over the dramatically crashing Temperance River and stopped for a moment to try for the umpteenth time to shoot a photo that would do it justice. 

The marathon version of the race had started only an hour or so earlier, and a few of those fresher runners passed me.

Photos taken and back in race mode, I power-hiked to the busy tourist overlook side of the river and started up the broad rock to the trailhead 10 yards away.

I focused intently - as I had for over 24 hours - on moving from Point A to the finish at Point B as quickly as possible, but this spot was typically crowded and I didn’t want to plow through at a run. A lone marathoner ran by and I saw a handful of tourists in the small area.

Suddenly, a white-haired woman I didn’t know to my right above me bellowed out mockingly,

“Are you running or walking?! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!”

I was the only runner in sight. She was yelling at me.

The outright meanness stunned me speechless.

For 86 miles I’d heard nothing but “you’re awesome!” from other runners, volunteers, crew, pacers, hikers on the trail, and anyone watching, even momentarily, for any reason.

In fact, in a lifetime of running, I’d never been openly ridiculed in a race. Especially so loudly by someone who couldn’t possibly have done what I was doing.

I was shocked, angry and had to quickly choose - tell her off or tune her out?

Telling her off would have felt ohhhhh so good. 

But it would destroy my race focus and create enough additional drama to distract me for the rest of the race. 

It would be what I’d remember about the race.

And telling her off wasn’t going to help me get to Point B.

Not worth it.

So a calm, “I’m running 100 miles, how about that?” over my shoulder as I continued moving, was it.

That’s not to say I didn’t spend the next quarter mile thinking up satisfying comeback speeches.

But once that mental venting was over, it was over. And I was still moving to Point B. And it was a beautiful day. And I was going to enjoy the rest of this race I’d waited a year for.

And finishing despite her was way better than telling her off.

There’s so much distracting noise to get righteously angry about - all the people and media that say you can’t do it, you aren’t doing it right, you’re not good enough, or you don’t deserve it. 

But is that what you’re trying to achieve - being angry and right? 

Or are you trying to get to your own Point B?

If you are, don’t let this stuff distract you, as tempting as that is.

Unless you make it something, it’s just meaningless noise that’ll knock you off course. 

And you getting to Point B is the best comeback of all.

Susan Donnelly’s signature