|Learn to conquer yourself first!!|
Since I was a kid, I've always had a fascination with mountains. One mountain, in particular, to be exact........Mt. Everest. I could always tell you how high it was to the exact foot. As I've grown older, I've come to realize that I don't enjoy heights that much. Particularly, heights from which I can fall and die from. So, mountaineering hasn't become my thing. But, my love for the mountains has maintained.
So, in a weird twist of fate, I have planted myself and my family squarely in the middle of what is basically the flattest part of the country. But, this just means that every vacation we take can be to the mountains! And, we can just go to run, hike, ski & play. The mountains are my version of a playground....winter or summer.
|Failure is part of who I am, but it doesn't define me.|
Last September, I took the plunge and attempted my first 100-miler. I trained. I trained hard. And, on race day, things didn't go my way and I was thru at Mile 77. I still wonder if that was the right decision to stop, and I'm just not sure.
So, I immediately signed up for an even harder 100-miler (as if there's an "easy" 100-miler). In December. In Omaha. With 25,000' of elevation gain and loss. Hey....I never said I was a smart man! And, in December, I tackled those Loess hills pretty ferociously. But, at Mile 76, my knee and my day were done. I know this was the right decision, but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it. I still haven't brought myself to write a blog post about that race because it hurts the pride to be 0-for-2.
|Fear is normal.|
So, several of my friends have since ribbed me by saying I am "0-for-200". And....they aren't wrong. But, I refuse to let those past failures define me. I bounced back from the Hitchcock attempt in December and had a pretty good January of running (200+ miles). So, I again took my stubbornness to the internet and registered for a race that I've been stalking for a while now....the High Lonesome 100. But this time, I've picked out a mountain race because that's where I belong.....in the mountains.
The High Lonesome 100 is a true Colorado mountain race. It's average elevation is 10,600'. For reference, the 'tree line', you know.....the spot where trees stop growing because there's not enough oxygen....is 11,000'. It's high point is one of Colorado's 14-ers (Mt. Antero). It's lowest elevation is 8,500'.....1.5miles above my home in Missouri. It has 24,500' of elevation gain, and 24,500' of elevation loss. Like I said....I may not be a very smart man.
So, today is exactly three weeks out from race day. Tomorrow is the longest run of the training plan. It's hot. It's humid. It will be a long, lonely "sufferfest" tomorrow. But, the running is the easy part. Fighting thru the day will only make me come out stronger. Someone once said, and it's completely true..... "If you feel good in an ultra, just wait.". But, I heard it said this past week that the reverse is also true...."If you feel bad in an ultra, just wait.". Both of my previous two attempts, I've felt great up until the point where each race took a bad turn and I let it take me to the dreaded DNF.
This round will be different. I know it'll be soul-draining. I know it'll be lung-crushing. I know it'll be muscle-depleting. I know that finishing the High Lonesome 100 will come at GREAT cost to me physically. But, I'm ready to bear that pain. I'm ready to suffer. I've assembled some of my best running friends to help me thru it. They all understand that quitting just isn't an option this time around (Plus, my wife might not let me keep trying these crazy races if I don't finish them!). They all understand that this time around, I need to drag my ass thru the bad and low points and just keep moving.
My favorite part of ultras is the uncertainty of even finishing the race. So much can--and will-- go wrong in 100 miles. So, just like before my first 100-miler attempt, I sit here today kinda scared. I hate failing....it doesn't suite me. But, I feel like my preparation has been pretty steadfast. I'm going to spend these final few weeks really focusing in on the task at hand, mentally. So, forgive me if I seem misplaced or drifting if you see me, but my target is in sight and my focus is narrowing. I'm no elite athlete and this is going to take everything that I have....but I'm willing to give it all.
Vince Lombardi once said, "The man on top of the mountain didn't fall there." I want to be that man on top of the mountain. In three weeks, I'm going to get my chance and I'm going to leave everything in those mountains.......