Monday, April 22, 2013


I have confidence issues.  Don't believe me, let me give you a few examples.

Exhibit A- "Double Molar Off"

When I served in France as a missionary we had a challenge known as a "Molar Off."  This challenge was a right of passage that existed among missionaries long before I arrived in France and hopefully still does today.  To successfully complete a "Molar Off" a missionary only needed to eat 50 chocolate covered granola cookies and drink a liter of French milk without blowing chunks.  Often times the cookies went down easy enough but once they mixed with the milk, they expanded in ones stomach and the result was good for a cheap photo and boosted the missionary's district's morale.  Who doesn't like to see their peers get sick and loose their lunch.

As a new missionary, I heard a few of the others experiences and was asked when I was going to try the Molar Off.  I saw some of the guys who were successful and just figured I was capable of more than them.  This is the kind of confidence issues I am talking about, instead of just being content to be successful in the traditional Molar Off, I announced that it was too easy for me, I would instead attempt to be the first person in the mission to complete a "Double Molar Off": one-hundred cookies and two liters of milk in two hours time.  Word of my announcement traveled fast and soon I was scheduled to do it with my whole district there to witness.

When the day came I was ready to bring it.  For the 24 hours previous I had not eaten anything only drank large quantities of water to stretch the stomach.  I was starving and couldn't wait to get going.  The first 50 cookies and liter of milk were a breeze.  I downed them in 30 minutes and was all smiles.  I started right into the next 50.  I was at 70 cookies before they started to taste less appealing and was convincing most in attendance I was going to pull it off.  I ate five more cookies that I did not enjoy, 75 cookies in 45 minutes, then the wheels started to come off.  In the next 15 minutes I willed myself to eat 8 more cookies.  I had an hour left to go.  I had finished 83 cookies and 1.5 liters of the milk, but I had hit a wall like none other.  Seventeen cookies did not seem possible.  I calmed myself with the following self-strategy.  "You have a whole hour left, relax for 30 minutes, let your stomach digest a bit of that and then the 17 cookies will be a cinch."

For the next 30 minutes my stomach was not my friend.  I sat in my chair sweating and squirming from the violence going on inside.  Before I knew it the 30 minutes was gone and I felt worse than when it had started, but I knew I had to get going on the last 17 cookies.  I suffered through 4 more cookies and then during my 88th cookie the moment came that everyone, except myself, was hoping for.

Exhibit B-  Ultra Marathons

When I got invited by Rhett, my superhero cousin, to try my luck in one of the toughest 100 mile Ultra-Marathons in America, it didn't take me long to decide I would fork out the 225 bucks to see if I could do it.  I should have instead remembered the absolutely horrendous experience I had in my only marathon (that is worthy of a blogpost itself) and said are you kidding me, no thanks, but that is not what happened, and instead my confidence has led to me being in way over my head, like usual.

I luckily had an Ultra-Marathon acquaintance at school and he was happy to have me start training with him and all of his buddies.  I soon realized I was in with a group that was far more dedicated to this cause then I was, not to mention had a lot more free time to train than I did, but really our biggest difference is they like running and I don't.  Regardless of our differences I have been grateful for their help.  I have trained with them when I could and lied to them about the mileage I was putting in when I couldn't.

They told me I really should at least do a 50 before I attempt a 100, and having learned a lesson from the "double molar off" I decided they were probably right.  So they signed me up for the hardest 50 around, 50 miles of trail with over 26,000 feet of total elevation change.  That was a long day.  At mile 20, I thought there was absolutely no way I could do 100 miles and wondered how in the heck I was going to do 30 more miles.  At mile 40 I actually felt good and started to think I could really do 100.  I finished the last 10 miles strong and passed a bunch of people for good that I had been jockeying back and forth with all day.  I crossed the finish line, hugged my wife and kids and within 10 minutes of being stopped sunk to a physical low that I hadn't felt for a long time.  The thought of putting on a headlamp and starting out in the night to redo what I had just done was literally a terrifying thought.  For days I really didn't think I had what it took to do 100 miles.  I again probably should have just been happy with a being a "single molar off" Ultra-marathoner, but when you have confidence issues like I do this isn't what happens.  Eventually my stupid confidence toppled my doubts and I started to believe I could do it again.

The time to find out if I can do it has now come, and the only good thing is I have two friends that have just as big of confidence issues as I do.  That's right, Rhett and Bram will be standing next to me on the starting line.

 Here I am finishing my 50.  One of my goals was to not need a head lamp.  I barely made it. 
Notice the banner above the finish line.  It is hard not to like a sport with a slogan like that but I don't.

Here are the stats:
I finished 82nd out of 120ish that finished.  I think there were about another 40 or 50 that did not finish.  Thirteen girls beat me. 

Does it look like I have 50 more miles in me? 
Actually, don't answer that question I need all the confidence I can get.