A Difficult Day at Lake Perry Dedicated to an Even More Difficult Subject

“Empathy is the faculty to resonate with the feelings of others. When we meet someone who is joyful, we smile. When we witness someone in pain, we suffer in resonance with his or her suffering.”
~Matthieu Ricard~

A Difficult Day at Lake Perry Dedicated to an Even More Difficult Subject

This is not only a race report because I dedicated this race to anyone who is suffering from or who loves someone who suffers from mental illness. Especially anyone who found this battle unbearable and did not get the help they needed in time; that hurt themselves or even worse took their own life. If you are suffering please seek out help and if you see warning signs in someone suffering from depression or other forms of mental illness, please step up and help them carry the load until they are able to get things under control. Don’t let someone that you care about take irreversible actions to solve a problem that might only seem unmanageable at the moment. Whether we realize it or not we are all connected and everything we do affects someone else, directly or indirectly. Don’t let suicide become a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I have included links to get information, seek help or get involved if you wish to.    

Front of Shirt
Back of shirt

Friday night I was not feeling great but I went ahead with what has become my go to pre-race meal of baked potato soup in a bread bowl. Saturday my alarm wakes me at 3:30 a.m. to let me know it is time to get ready to head out to Lake Perry for the half marathon. This is nerve wracking and exciting because today is a preview to the trails I will be on in October for my first and maybe only 50K. I have laid out everything I need and start off with some oatmeal and coffee after getting dressed. Then pace around nervously while I try to loosen up some tight muscles until it is time to go. Let me clear something up for those who do not know me; I use the term “race” loosely because with me it is a social event and the only things I compete against are myself and the thought telling me I don’t belong here doing this. I drive the sixty plus miles to where the race is being held with the top down on my Jeep and arrive early as usual. The temperature is in the mid fifties for the ride out but they are calling for it to warm up quickly. I have seen pictures of these trails but I have never been out here before; I would soon learn that it is much more rocky and hilly than I had previously thought.
awaiting the start
I hear Ben, the RD call out ten minutes to race time so I wander to the start flags where I see Steve and we head to the back of the group congregating at the start line. I finished right behind Steve a few weeks ago so I am guessing we will be running a good part of this together. Once we got going and turned onto the trail I was moving pretty well and knew it was going to be a long day but feeling okay. A group of us stayed together for a couple of miles and then some moved up and some moved back while a few people passed our group. About three miles in I came up on a couple and the girl looked like she just took a spill so I stopped to see if they needed any help. She said she was hurting but they would figure something out and I should keep going, I asked if she was sure, then went on. Steve said he was going to back off a little because the pace was a little too much, he joked about his tortoise pace which ended up working well for him. I was pulling away on the flats and down hills and he was catching me on the inclines almost every time. We came to the manned aid station which was listed as being at mile 6; I looked at my watch and thought we were doing quite well. As we got back on the trail I asked Steve (who was wearing a GPS) if that was 6 and he said, no it was just less than 5. Well that took a little wind out of my sails. I decide to keep pushing myself when I could and walk the hills if I need to which worked for a while. A few times during the morning I was running with a girl who said she ran some track and on the roads but this was her first trail run. I shared some things I thought might help her along the course, I hope some of it helped her.
On the trail
The temperature is rising and so is the humidity and I am drinking more water than I ever do while running. Around the halfway point my thoughts and doubts come at me full force; as they do my feet become heavier. After nearly wiping out twice I force my thoughts back to the trail and moving forward which is getting more difficult. I begin to get frustrated with myself when I am walking and thinking that my plans to do races longer than a half might not be realistic or possible. I bring my focus to why I am here and who I am running for. Surely my struggles I am going through right now do not even compare to someone who feels that no one cares or that taking their life is the only answer. Running truly is a metaphor for life because you get out what you put in and you are only stuck if you stop. You don’t have to go alone but you need to keep moving. Now after hearing a few snakes rustling through the leaves my focus is back on the trail and I picked up my pace temporarily thanks to the snakes. The people you meet during trail runs are pretty amazing and always check on you when they see you struggling, I was even given words of encouragement y Wonder Woman!
Best view of the day (except the finish line)

The most peaceful part of the morning was going along the lake and hearing the waves splashing against the bank. I really wanted to run down the hill and jump in but I kept going. This feels like the longest half marathon I have ever done (I did hear it was 13.5 miles by the way) and certainly we have GOT to be getting close when I turn a corner and see Rick from Mile90 photography  (race photos are courtesy of http://mile90.smugmug.com/ ) He says “only a couple miles left from what I can tell.” I looked at him and said “you have got to be sh***ing me? This thing is never going to end.” He says “you are doing great!” I appreciate the thought but move on thinking that this half must be 15 miles.

Are you Sh***ing me?
This is the longest @$#% half ever!

At an unmanned water station I come across a guy from North Carolina who is cramping really badly. We passed each other a couple of times until I caught up with him and he was leaning on a tree suffering from bad leg cramps. I gave him my last electrolyte tablet to drop in his water bottle since I had an extra and I went ahead after he said he would be okay. My water bottle is about empty again and finally I can hear people talking. As I come out on the road a lady says just up that hill and you are there. I didn't look up the hill I asked how far because of needing water. She very kindly says "really just up that hill and you are done" and she patted me on the shoulder. I turned and saw the flags from the start and knew that the finish would be right around the corner. Another eighth of a mile or so, thank God because I was more than ready to be done. Once I got through the finish line and got my medal I wandered into the building and there was food around the corner which I took advantage of and was very happy to see some chairs. I hung out for a little bit and visited with people enjoying being still. Then of course came the challenge of getting back up out of the chair; not pretty but I was on my feet again. On my way to my car I thank Ben and Coco who run all the Trail Nerds events and I strongly suggest if you are ever around the Kansas City/Lawrence, KS area that you check out one of their races. It is a great group of people and some of the best run events I have seen. Check them out at http://www.psychowyco.com/ and let’s go hit the trails!

If you are feeling suicidal, thinking about hurting yourself, or are concerned that someone you know may be in danger of hurting himself or herself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is staffed by certified crisis response professionals.


  1. Yes, I heat Lake Perry is not as innocent as something in Kansas may sound! Your experience sounds just like my first trail run! I can def empathize! I came in near dead last 3 years ago.. really. I think there was one or two poor souls behind my ragged, hot, sweaty, miserable ass! I swore off all trail running!

    1. This was a surprise for sure. I think part of it was being tired and I was not feeling well the day before. Excuses aside, it kicked my butt! I appreciate your input and reading your blog posts. They are always enlightening and entertaining. Thanks for reading mine!

  2. Great job Eric. Be proud of the accomplishment.

  3. Thank you Jeff. It is frustrating sometimes when I don't have a lot of expectations of myself for finish times but I expect more. Congratulations on your last month or so, you are really going after your training! Thanks for reading.

  4. Well done!! It sucked but you pushed through!! Way to go Nancy ;)

    1. Thanks, I did push through and sometimes even miss hearing "the pusher's" words of encouragement. See you later this week!


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