Over the 10+ hours i questioned my sanity and motives a dozen times, making countless bargains with myself about when i was going to stop. I fell to pieces mentally as i was overtaken on laps 4 and 5 by runners who the day before had finished the first half of the undead hall of fame challenge, navigating over 100 miles of these same twisting and undulating trails on mountain bike. I was hurting bad and these guys seemed to be blow by me effortlessly, despite the previous days monumental accomplishment. My laps got longer and longer, until the 6.2 miles was taking me approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes. My toes seemed to drag along the trail, and maybe they were - i took tumble after tumble during this low period.
It's interesting as i write this to think about these things - the way the whole event changes from the beginning to the end. At the beginning ego is typically a driving factor. There is something to prove. But i've come to realize as i've done lots of long events that ego isn't enough. It's ability to provide the necessary drive to pilot the human machine decreases exponentially once certain physical states are reached. And when you're in these states and your pre-race expectations aren't being met (and they rarely are), ego becomes all but useless. Rationalization and justification take over - and these weapons of the central governor are indomitable adversaries. To overcome them - at least for me - a shift has to take place - a shift from motivation by external things (what others think of me) to internal ones.
Things got better after that. The suffering became purposeful - part of goal - rather than a hurdle to be overcome in pursuit of it. The remainder of the day seemed much more manageable - a small offering of gratitude to loved ones.