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1 week

May 4, 2012

…until Zion 100! Time has flown by when I first signed up for this race back in January, secretly I had been thinking about 100’s for a while. Once you jump on the ultra train, it’s hard to get off.

It only took me one race to realize that every ultra – especially the long one – is a “survival situation.” For many of us, that is part of the allure of the sport. I truly believe that ultrarunning is the ultimate test of survival, with the hundred-miler being the standard-bearer. And, perhaps, that’s what makes ultras so rewarding: by making it to the finish line, we’re all victors. I was both horrified and strangely drawn to the idea that 100-mile running races existed. It wasn’t until a couple of my close friends started signing up for their first 100 that the distance became a reality for me. I never thought I would come to train for a 100 mile race, but I always had a curiosity about running that far.

There is, however, still something magical and intensely appealing to me about the distance. I think this appeal comes from several places, but mostly from how challenging, unpredictable, and unknown the experience of running 100 miles on trails in the mountains is. My curiosity for 100’s piqued when I crewed Helen at San Diego 100 last June. Honestly, after waiting at the Mile 80 aid for some time and watching all the different emotions of runners come in and out, I left the aid telling myself I would never do a 100 mile run. I watched one particular runner come into the aid sure he was going to drop, then his friend came through and coached him encouraging words and left the aid telling him that he better see him come through the finish. That runner ended up sleeping in the aid tent for a while until he had enough energy to continue. It took true strength and perseverance once he hit rock bottom to find the courage and strength to keep going. He looked like hell when we ended up passing him on the trail, eyes blood shot and slowly straggling behind his pacer, but he continued and never gave up. And that’s what ultra running is all about, pushing yourself past your comfort zone and going beyond what you thought was possible.

Not going to lie, I am scared shitless for what’s to come next week. There’s always the self-doubt of “what if I didn’t train enough?” or “I could have trained harder” that comes through my mind before any big event. One of the things I remember from my first marathon as I stayed up all night unable to sleep was to trust in my training plan. Allowing yourself to feel a certain level of fear is good, you never want to be overly confidant that things will be perfect race day, but you shouldn’t let the fear take over. They always say, the hard part is over (training), the race is the celebration, right?

With any new distance, you will never forget your first one. Your first mile, 5K, 10K and so on. Each new distance begs the question of ‘can I go further?’ I remember back in 2009 when I ran my first marathon at Surf City, I was a nervous wreck. Would I make it the entire 26 miles? It sounded like such a long way to go. I dealt with all the beginners problems: stomach issues, side stitch, cramps etc but finishing my first marathon couldn’t have been more rewarding. I trained for the race and it was paying off every mile of the way. Fast forward, I remember my first 50 mile at Northface in 2010. I had the same problems adjusting to this new distance with not fueling right and hitting the wall multiple times. It was a long march to the finish and once I finally crossed the finish line, I knew this is exactly where I wanted to be. Hitting the trails, getting dirty in the mud and learning how to push myself to the extreme. As unhappy as I was the last 20 miles of Northface, I knew ultra running was something I could be good at if I kept trying. I returned to Northface a year later, stronger and more prepared, ready to mentally push myself through the last 20 miles. I ended up shaving off 2 hours from my previous time and feeling better overall about my performance this time around.
And now 3 years later, I’m about to embark on my first 100 mile journey through Zion. I’ve put in my time, dedicated the past 6 months to this race and now it’s time to celebrate the hard work and watch it pay off. It’s been a long journey, struggles with burn outs, dealing with injuries, but the memories of the entire training cycle will always be a reminder that we are capable of more than we think.
I’ve always heard for 100’s, you run the first 50 with your legs and the last 50 with your heart. Whatever happens, I’m going to give it my best and cross that finish line. I’m not giving up without a fight and I’m not coming home without my buckle. I’ve learned that our minds and hearts are just as powerful as our legs and what our bodies can do.

Because there’s no way you’re not crossing the finish line. It’s a misery that non-runners don’t understand~ Costello

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Jack Rosenfeld permalink
    May 4, 2012 11:13 am

    I’m so excited for you and cannot wait to read the post-Zion blog. I remember your first ultra was one week before my first ultra. Have an amazing time out there.

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