Thursday, August 5, 2010

FOMO and the Beast of Burden Summer 100

Type in the letters "FOMO" into Google Search.  Better yet, type in "the fear of missing out".  What you will find is a plethora of hits describing the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO, for short) and its application in various situations ranging from the business world to social settings.  In fact, just yesterday an article appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle titled, "Oh My God You Are So Missing Out", in which the author describes (mainly in relation to the social, party scene)  FOMO as:

"a form of insanity, a niggling madness, a never-ending, glorious hellbitch of a race that you can never, ever win.....that wildly addictive and yet totally nightmarish sociocultural dance whereby you are constantly being attached by the overwhelming sense that so many wonderful, life-altering events are happening all around....in any given moment that, well, there is simply no way to attend them all [ resulting in ] the overwhelming feeling that you are, right now, missing out on some miraculous experience that is quite possibly the coolest thing ever to happen to anyone, ever."

My first introduction to the concept of FOMO came from my good friend Bryon Powell of iRunFar.com fame.  I can't quite remember the exact situation that brought him to mention not doing a particular event simply due to suffering from a terrible case of FOMO, but it certainly arose out of a discussion that centered around whether or not to add a particular event to my calendar, taking into consideration my current level of training, fitness and preparedness.  Recently I saw what I believe to be a prime example of FOMO in a runner that has been unsuccessful in a few attempts at the 100-mile distance - deciding whether to withdraw from another attempt at a 100-mile race finish vs.entering a 72-hour event.  What was particularly interesting to me about the process of this person's justification to forgo a first-time 100-mile finish to instead head for the more difficult (at least to me) realm of a 72-hour event were the references to the "social aspect" of the 72-hour event course (it is a 0.8 mile loop) and to being "not as lonely."  Not that there is anything wrong with that justification - I suppose we can spend our money as we like, enter whatever events we like, train as we like, and so on and so forth.  But, what this particular example did was get me to think about my own racing plans, and whether or not I was, yet again, suffering myself from a nasty case of FOMO.

Which, finally, brings me to the actual point of this post - my recent entry into the Beast of Burden Summer 100 Miler (the "Summer 100") in Lockport, New York on August 21.  It will be a little over 5 weeks since running the Badwater Ultramarathon, and I'm already set to run another 100, Javelina Jundred, in October.  In fact, I distinctly remember me responding to the question, "what are you doing for races for the rest of 2010" by saying, "2 50-milers and Javelina, and that is it!"  Is FOMO to blame for my entry into the Summer 100.  Just as in the example above where the person may not be physically ready to move up to the 72-hour distance, might I not also be in shape to run 100 miles a mere 5 weeks after running 135 miles?

Fear not my friends, there is way more to it than FOMO.  My very good friends know how much I despise the city of Buffalo.  I mean, come on, I'm a Miami Dolphins fan.  That alone is cause to want to take Buffalo, crumple it up into a ball, put it in a suitcase, tie a cinder block to it, and dump it in the ocean.  Besides, have you ever been to Buffalo?  Frigid cold in the winter.  Lake-effect snow.  Each year I am lucky enough to avoid going to Buffalo to visit my in-laws - the wife and kids are kind enough to leave me behind.  Heck, I'd come up with any excuse not to go - give me a good colonoscopy over a trip to Buffalo anytime.  Well, maybe not, but I'd seriously weigh having to go to Buffalo vs. having an endoscope inserted into......ok, no need to go there.  I digress.

Back to the story.  So, when I was politely told by my wife, who we will call, for purposes of this post alone, "The Nemesis", that I had to go to Buffalo to attend my father-in-law's wedding on Friday, August 20, I immediately exhibited all of the tell-tale symptoms of anxiety - pounding heart, sweating, shortness of breath, and insomnia.  First I called a doctor - "you think I need an emergency colonoscopy on August the 20th?," I said.  There had to be something...something to get me out of this mandate forced upon me by The Nemesis.  Then, I thought, instead of giving in and allowing The Nemesis to claim victory, I could, instead, turn this dreadful, disasterous visit to Buffalo into a trip that was necessary for me.  Thank you Summer 100.  Yes, that's it, there is a 100-mile race just 17 miles from the hotel we are staying at.  Plus, the Summer 100 has a 10:00 AM starting time.  Perfect.  Of course, running a 100-miler on Saturday will bring with it the absolute need to leave The Nemesis at the wedding on Friday night, to ensure an adequate amount of sleep prior to running 100 miles.

So, there you have it.  I'm running the Summer 100 on August 21, and it has nothing to do with FOMO.

10 comments:

  1. I am opposite I have the fear of racing stopping me from competing again. I have the standard set really high for my next 50k so a lot of pressure, so fear of doing it when not ready. Then I have the fear of well I might not be ready to hit as fast as a time in the 50k but I could try a 50 miler again, but after the failure from my first 50 miler I am afraid to try it again.

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  2. Reverse FOMO Amanda? I can totally understand.

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  3. nice post! enjoy your race. now i learned a new term!!!

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  4. Love this post! As the Summer Beast grows nearer I keep wondering why I entered the damn thing. Now I know why. FOMO!

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  5. Hey Mr FOMO. I am running at Rockies tomorrow at 6:30. Its going to be amazing and everyone will be there. You?

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  6. Shoot, T....You could WIN this thing. Definitely don't want to miss out on that chance!

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  7. I just noticed the 2nd count down widget thingy. Please tell!

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  8. hey, you might be on to something about Buffalo. Check out what else they do up there.
    -meal

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  9. I would like to point out that Gary L. Korkuc is a freak and deserves to be marinated himself. The rest of us are just happy to get our runs in and enjoy all the great roads and trails the WNY area has to offer. Cat marinating is not the norm in upstate New York. Honest.

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