Chasing an Endorphin Release

I completed a 10-hour Adventure Race last weekend. Looking back, I am still not sure why I expressed interest to my friends who have been doing these for years. Whatever the reason, they offered, I committed, and we completed. It is done!

The race was 10-hours of continuous movement in the form of either jogging, running, trekking, road biking, mountain biking, or paddling. At the end of the 10-hours, myself and my two friends had each traversed close to 48 miles. And this was without completing the whole course!

However, our efforts were enough to earn 3rd in the Coed Premier Division. A standard place for them (the top 2 teams are on another level), and I called it a win for my first Adventure Race.

The question that is on my mind today is, “why did I do this?” I have never been one to get into the long endurance races. I have done some 5k’s and a Warrior Dash (maybe 2), but to go from those, which are completed in under an hour, to this…what was I thinking?

The only answer I can come up with is, “to see if I could.” There is something about extreme effort that fascinates most of humanity. Even if an individual does not complete the effort him or herself, it is probable that in their life they have revered a top athlete. And I am no different.

What is even more curious is how quickly the hardship and pain fade from memory, at least as a concern. My personal timeline was something like:

  • 1.5 hours left in the race: Miserable and rehabbing myself with my friends help to ensure I finished.
  • Post-race: Slightly euphoric that we completed. Box checked, on to the next thing (never again).
  • 2 hours later: Speculating what I would have to do differently if I were to try something like this again, or often.
  • Drive home the next day: Considering who I know in my home city who might be crazy enough to do this.
  • 2 days later: Feeling out one of my friends if he would ever be interested.

In short, it was a rapid progression from “never again” to, “maybe a 4- or 5-hour next time.”

I believe that from an evolutionary timeline, we are still relatively recently removed from the life of a hunter/gatherer (< 15,000 years). That lifestyle necessitated movement, endurance, and physical trials. Therefore, our mind appreciates physical exertion. In fact, the chemicals released from such efforts are our own reward system.

(This thinking is highly influenced by my current read, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.)

One endorphin high completed. Probably the largest hit since I hiked Highland Bowl at Aspen Highlands right before the pandemic hit in March 2020. Time to find the next!

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