Thursday, September 15, 2011

Done, Done on to the next one.

Actually the title should read Done, Done, (Done) on to the next one, but that wouldn't be the Foo Fighters lyrics would it?

Dave Grohl - the Foo Fighters rock!
In a little over a week I'll be at the starting line of my fourth 100 mile race since June.  The Bear 100 is located in the Wasatch Mountain range of Utah.  On paper, it looks to be the hardest race of the year by far.  The elevation gain/loss is somewhere in the 21500ft range and although the elevation isn't as high as Leadville (what is?) it is still over 9000 and the air is thinner than my sea-level body is used to.

Wasatch Mountains in Logan UT where the Bear 100 starts

I head into the race with a lot of mixed emotions.  Although I'm feeling great physically, my head is a little twisted.  I felt great heading into Leadville and then completely hit the wall somewhere between 75 and 80 miles into it.  That has never happened to me before.  At every 100 before that, the last 20 miles are usually where I make up the most ground.  When most around me are slowing down, I play "energizer bunny" and just keep going and going and going.  While I certainly don't speed up, my secret is that I don't really slow down.  Leadville was a completely different experience and it has me wondering if the effects of not having enough time to recover were the reason. 

As I usually do, I have been wondering how much of it was my head and how much of it was really physical.  I tried to run many times over those last tough miles, but I only could go 6 or 7 strides and then had to revert back to walking.  I was pretty drained.  Hopefully the five weeks between Leadville and this final race (yes, I still am running 124 miles across the state three weeks after this race) will find me in better shape for that last push to the finish line at the Bear.

I had several goals as I started this project.  Obviously the most important goal was to write about the process of tackling a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and share it with anybody who might be interested.  The idea that putting myself through this much pain becomes much more managable knowing that it might inspire somebody to take that first step towards accomplishing a life long dream.  

My other goals I outlined for my coach Jack when we figuring out my training program at the start. I told him that my A list of goals was to buckle (sub 24 hour except leadville where it is sub 25) at all four races, do VT in less than 20 hours and then finish the entire run across NH (124 miles).  So far I'm pretty close.  I finished VT in 20 hours and 52 minutes due to some long pit stops to fix bad blisters.  Besides that, I have got the buckle at all the races.  This means that once again I'm putting unnessisary pressure on myself going into a race.  I really, really want to break 24 hours at the Bear.  It is not going to be easy.  Last year only 17 runners did.  I have compared their times at the Bear to the other races I've done this year and most of them are faster than me.  I'm going to have to spend much less time in the aid stations and push much harder.  I've been trying to gear my head up to be ready to deal with a lot of pain.

2011 Western States 100, Vermont 100, Leadville Trail 100 Buckles
As many of you know, my original plan was to run the "Grand Slam" of Ultrarunning.  It consists of Western States 100, Vermont 100, Leadville 100 and the Wasatch 100.  Because I missed the deadline for the lottery I wasn't allowed to run Wasatch.  I chose the Bear because it is in the same Wasatch mountains and only two weeks after.  It is not as hard of a race as Wasatch, but about as close as I can get.

Here's the kicker...up until Wasatch I had the fastest combined time for the first three races.  If I had been able to enter Wasatch and finished in less than 31 hours I would have won the slam!  It's kind of a bummer, but it doesn't really matter.  It would have been nice to have the big Eagle trophy though.  Congrats to my buddy Adam Bechtel for winning the slam.  He's a super nice guy that I had the privilige of running with a bit this year.

So if you know me or work with me please bear with me for the next week.  I'm going out of my mind preparing for the race.  You would think that by now I would know exactly how to tackle another one.  But being completely OCD and ADD I'm caught up in just figuring out all the details.  Ultimately none of that will matter.  It really comes down to something very simple, just putting one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward at all cost. I can't wait to see those beautiful mountains and test my physical and mental abilities one more time.  Thanks again to everybody who has given me so much support and followed me on this journey.


sherpajohn said...

Left.. Right.. Repeat.
Screw the goals man... just enjoy the journey. Everyone who knows you all ready knows how tough and amazing you are.. what's let to prove?


Aliza Lapierre said...

You have learned a lot this year and this new found knowledge will help you on take on "The Bear". Stick with what you know, run your race and see how the chips fall. Most importanly just continue to believe.