The Twisting Branch Part 1
The record shows that I finished the 2022 Twisted Branch Trail Run 100k in 19 hours, 18 minutes, and 48 seconds. In doing so, I qualified for the Western States Endurance Run lottery.
I had achieved the one running goal I had set out at the beginning of the year. I had never before been singularly focused on one objective since I took up this sport 5 years earlier. For 7 months of careful planning and diligent training, I had ever had this result in my sights. And now it was done.
I should be full of joy and pride.
Instead, a month after finishing, I still feel disconnected from it.
And this is not to diminish the importance of the accomplishment, which I shared with 118 other runners on the day, nor to take away the meaning for the other 49 starters that DNFed. I cognitively understand what I have attained in the object context of trail ultrarunning. I just haven’t figured out what it means to me.
In the immediate aftermath, I spent some time writing a race report and posted it to social media. I’m a verbose person, so it’s fitting my report was so long it wouldn’t fit in one Instagram post. I broke it up into 4 parts and focused on a different aspect of the race. I thought this would feel cathartic, and it would have established a definitive understanding for me, just like doing so had for many other races. However, even with the length I allowed myself, I found there was so much I left unsaid, and ultimately, I didn’t think my writing rang 100% true to my experience. So, when Ellie Pell asked me to write about Twisted Branch for this site, I knew I wanted to put down something more honest.
To help me find my way, I enlisted the help of Addie Bracy (after reading her book in the lead-up to the race). Addie is a mental performance coach and an accomplished ultrarunner herself. We had our first session last week and already I feel like I am heading in the right direction. But I also realized that this is going to be a journey, since what’s at the core of my emotional response is a fundamental examination of who I am not just as a runner, but also as a person.
I’m grateful to Ellie for giving me the chance to be open about my struggles (which go far beyond this sport) and extending what was supposed to be a few hundred words into a sporadic blog. I hope that in doing so, some of what I experience will resonate with (and maybe even help) other trail runners in this community.
Stay tuned for Part 2!