One minute I was flying down the trail — the next I was airborne spinning head over heels. The tip of my left shoe snagged the edge of a root , somersaulting me through the air.
It took me a few seconds to realize what happened.
The impact of of an expected crash landing took my breath away.
Looking down I didn’t see any blood, so I knew I was going to be alright.
My left foot was throbbing.
But the shock of falling and the urgency of knowing that every second I wasted on the trail was a second longer I was stuck running the race jolted me out of the situation.
I grabbed the water bottle that had fallen out of my hand and frantically headed back down the trail.
I was a little more than 23 miles into my run and not even a quarter of the way from the finish line. This was no place to get hurt. I needed to be better at paying attention.
That was the only time I would fall that race. A few days later, three of the middle toenails on my left foot would fall off.
Damaged by that crash.
A little more than 13 hours later, I would cross the finish line — my second 100 mile ultramarathon in the last eight months.
This time, and for the first time ever as an elite ultra-athlete, I crossed the finish line in 1st place. Champion. Winner. More than 20 miles ahead of second-place.
It’s been two weeks now since that race. I’ve thought about how I feel about winning that race every day since.
I’ve thought about all the progress I’ve made over the last few years. I’ve thought about how amazing it was to have my wife there supporting me — crewing like a champ. I’ve thought about how awesome it was that friends in town and family came to see me, run with me, and cheer me on.
The biggest thing I think about is what I can do better next time.
Eight months ago it took me 2 1/2 hours longer to run the same distance.
That time I finished in fourth place.
This time a few positions better.
It was much hotter this race, yet my body stayed better hydrated and my nutrition and fat metabolism were much more effective.
I should be happy that I won. And I am happy.
I just can’t seem to shake this feeling in my center of my soul that I haven’t achieved my full potential yet.
I’m not as fast as I could be. I’m not as strong as I should be. My strategy is good, but it’s not great. I’m better than some but not as awesome as I want to be.
Here is what I have come to realize: Every breakthrough is an opportunity for even higher performance.
Every step up is an chance to compete at a higher level.
That’s just the way it needs to be. I don’t want to be content knowing that I could have been better but just give up on myself. I’m afraid of realizing too late that I could have been awesome if I would have just kept pushing myself.
For me, whatever I achieve probably won’t ever be good enough — no matter if it’s a win, personal record, or a world record.
I have to keep pushing further and faster until I reach that moment when I surpass all concept of what is humanly possible for an individual like me. That moment in time, that experience, is when I’ll know that I am good enough.
That it’s time to stop pushing. Time to stop trying. Time to be happy with what I have accomplished so far.
I suspect you’re a lot like me.
You have this nagging feeling doing what you do best — you know you could do better.
You know you have a greater capacity to push yourself. Another gear. Another level of performance.
Don’t quit on yourself. Don’t stop pushing. You have to be dissatisfied with where you are, even if it’s a good place, if you want to be awesome.
You’ll trip and fall along the way. Maybe even lose a few toenails.
But you’ll never end up ordinary. In fact, you might just change the world.
How incredible would that be?