Trying again

Well here I am again, staring at a computer screen resolving to update my blog more often as an impending goal is upon me. Today I am hoping to spend my summer and early fall preparing for and completing a number of races, on foot and on bicycle.

The first race is closing in faster than I had assumed it would. June 9 I will be participating in the 12-hour ultra-race at Earlywine Park in Oklahoma City. This is a timed event and the person that covers the most distance in a particular time wins, that won’t be me, unless RedBull gives me so really awesome wings. This race is complete with a 6-hour and 12-hour version. Wish me luck as any amount of unprepared I am cannot be made up now.

Big event two for the summer/fall is the Hotter N’ Hell 100. This is a 100 mile bike race in Texas. Last year I got a bike and went out guns blazing to prepare for this race. That enthusiasm quickly waned. This year I’m telling myself that it will be different and I will not walk away from my goal. We will see if that is true if I’m at the start line on August 25.

Big event three will be 24 The Hard Way a 24-hour ultra. There is a 6, 12 and 24-hour option at this event, really something for everyone. I know you’re thinking it sounds amazing, get race info at 24thehardway.com.  Last year I did the 24 race, and went home around hour 18-ish? This year I’m hoping to make it the whole 24 hours and complete more distance than the previous year.

So I have a summer full of long events. Most people seem surprised by the thought of timed running. It is really all a mind game. Setting a pace and knowing that you have to make it last or adjust it and trudge on. I enjoy timed races because they allow me the opportunity to stop whenever I feel it necessary without making my finishing time slower, although stopping does keep me for completing more miles.  At both the timed races on my calendar for this summer/fall the course is about a one mile loop. This set up allows you to pass your campsite again, and again, and again and again.

Completing a timed race has proved to be mentally difficult for me. Unlike in a distance race, a runner cannot ‘pick up the pace’ and finish quicker. No matter the pace runner will trudge on for the given amount of time. The first timed event I completed was six hours, not too much longer than my marathon PR at the time. During that race I did not even complete the distance of a marathon but the sense of reward I got from completing the event left me wanting more. The next year I completed the 6-hour again, this time the weekend after a marathon. Again I did not even complete the marathon distance.

Year three was a breakthrough year for me. I calmly walked away from what my brain told me was logical and signed up for the 24 hour race at 24 The Hard Way. I read everything I could get my hands on concerning timed distance races and ultrarunning. I set a lofty goal for the event. Bought almost an entire supermarket and packed everything away in plastic bags. I ran to prepare.  I had enough food to feed the entire race and enough sports drinks to fill a small pond.

If pre-race non-running preparation could have won the race I’d have been in first or second. As the race was started I was ready. After lap one, which is just under a mile I realized I was NOT ready. And as the race went on my body deteriorated. My stomach growled, I refused to eat enough as nothing was appetizing after 6 hours. I walked, I sat, I slept, I jogged and by body screamed. Around night fall my feet began to swell. Then someone mentioned ordering food from Earl’s. Despite all the wonderful, good for your body food in the cooler the only thing that sounded good from that point was BBQ. Wish granted, it was delivered! My shoes were modified to make room for my swelling feet and I was back on the road.

Rain came, then a delay and my body stopped wanting to function completely. After the rain I ran a few laps and resolved to curling up in a chair under the finish canopy, where I would stay until I called it quits for the night. But this year I am resolving for my race to go differently, so I will prepare different and enter with a different attitude.

This quote talks about ultra-running and I like it:

“Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense. The ultra-runners know this instinctively. And they know something else that is lost on the sedentary. They understand, perhaps better than anyone, that the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort. In running such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of their being — a call that asks who they are …” – David Blaikie

So here’s to a summer of completing goals…

“Pushing your body past what you thought it was capable of is easy; the hard part is pushing yourself even further … past what your mind wants to let you.  That’s what ultrarunning is all about; introducing you to a self you’ve never known.”    – Rex Pace

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