Friday, November 1, 2013

The Road to 100 - Arrival and Introspection

This is going to be just a stream of consciousness post. I have a lot of thoughts about what I'm attempting to do in roughly 30 hours. It probably won't be good reading.

A lot of it has to do less with the nuts and bolts of the race itself, and more with my current state of mind and what effect that will have on my race experience, and what effect that experience will have on my current state of mind.

Everyone get that?


No? Well tough shit...

If you've been following this sordid tale from Day 1...

...well..."Day 1" is kind of a misnomer, actually.

I want to say that this journey began early this year, but the idea to run 100 miles was planted quite a while ago, and way back when I was training for Ironman Florida last year...even then I was itching to get back to my serenity on the trails and try to tackle some longer races. But for the sake of simplicity we'll say it began almost a year ago...shortly after Ironman Florida. I should've been recovering, but I just kinda kept running through December and into January when I started building mileage for Run Toto Run 50k.

SO...if you've been following along this whole time, you know that mentally I've been all over the place. I soldiered through the worst of the heartache early this year by throwing myself at 5 ultramarathons over the course of 5 months, then when my battered and beaten body needed a break, my mental health took a shit because I couldn't distract myself with running for the next two months. In August and September I was back in the game with this race as my primary goal and focus, and I was once again in a decent place. And then I had to start tapering.

The last 3 weeks haven't been easy, and I knew they wouldn't be. Tapering comes with a lot of anxiety just by itself, but when you layer it ever so delicately on top of an existing predisposition towards depression, that's when the fun really begins. But here we are, on the eve of the biggest race of my life and all I can think about is this...

It's not whether my body can physically complete this is whether my mind going to crack under the strain of doing something so physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting.

I hear stories of regular, well-tempered folks who end up crying in the fetal position at some point during their 100 mile races. SHIT, I do that at home sometimes when I HAVEN'T been running for 24 hours straight. How is my brain going to handle this?

Another aspect of my depression, aside from the occasional inexplicable sadness, is the numbness that haunts my idle moments. I sit, I think, and I feel nothing. I think back to some of my best and most meaningful races and how emotionally charged those moments were. Finishing in Coeur d'Alene, PRing at Run Toto Run...what if I experience the polar opposite of an emotional meltdown...what if I finish 100 miles and I feel absolutely nothing? (Well...besides horrible, gnawing, burning pain in every muscle of my body.)

What if it doesn't feel like anything?

This comes around to the Why...

Why am I doing this?

I don't have to explain 100 milers at all to other ultrarunners because they get it, but they don't necessarily know MY reasons.

And I'm not entirely certain I know myself. Sometimes I think it's for the exhilaration, for the sense of accomplishment, to prove to myself that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. For a shiny belt buckle. But right now I'm not really sure where my motivations lie.

To non-runners, or casual know...people who don't run more than a marathon...and I can identify with both groups. I was once a non-runner and I was also once a casual runner. To those who think about running 100 miles and their mind hits the breaks and says "Does Not Compute"'s really hard to explain. I try to make it seem like less of a big deal. Like if they trained for it, they could do it too.

And they could. That's kinda the point of my entire philosophy of "What One Man Can Do(another can do)"

I'm really not doing well staying on topic here. I apologize. It's not the How or the's the WHY!

Why do I want to run 100 miles? Why do I need to? To prove what to who?

Well right now, I really just need something to shoot for, otherwise I'd be drowning in something else. Normally, this would be another voyage of self discovery, of challenging my limitations, and breaking through into uncharted territory. I'm not saying that it isn't still all of those things. It's just that it feels like the stakes are much much higher right now. Like my entire year has been pointing to this exact moment in time. Like if I fail, everything is going to completely fall apart and the pieces will scatter to the wind.

And then the wind changed direction...

"You know what? I might not make it...but FUCK IT...I might." - Hayley Esson

Those words could be a new battle cry for me personally. When she dug herself out of ultra hell, she showed a strength and a resilience that I know I have deep down. This race is indeed going to push me to every limit I have, and despite all of this emotional crap I'm wading through, I'm ready for the punishment. I'm ready to suffer like I've never suffered before. I'm ready to curl up in a ball in the middle of the trail at mile 85 and cry until I'm over it, then I'm going to get right the fuck back up and I'm going to continue moving forward. Because that's really all I know how to do. It may not be in the best style...and it usually isn't...but I don't stop. I won't...and I can't...

Well THAT really escalated quickly..."sad and moody" to "FUCK EVERYTHING" in a split second.

So yeah...I'm conflicted, but excited.


I could talk about preparation, but it'd be really boring. I've run a whole lot this year, and tomorrow I'm going to find out if "a whole lot" was enough.

I've got a really solid crew and team of pacers to help get me to the finish line. I was once again considering trying to fly this one solo, but ESPECIALLY in my current state of mind I think that'd result in a big fat FAIL. Maybe next time I can go it alone, but I feel like I'm gonna need all the help I can get this time.

Lots of runner friends expressed interest in pacing, but it was a group of fantastic Mudbabes who basically told me "We're pacing you at OT 100" and I said "Ok". That and my excellent friend Delaware, who insisted on taking the ONLY leg of pacing that would involve no sunlight whatsoever. The darkest, loneliest, most fuck-your-sanity portion of the race, and I'll have one of my best friends in the universe along to keep me upright and moving. It's really hard to top that. Aside from that, Emily, Erica, and Heather will also be gracing me with their pacing prowess and their asskicking presence(both in the sense that they all kick ass, but specifically that they'll be kicking MY ass), and additionally the fabulous Janee will be heading up the crewing effort.

Earlier this evening I finished writing up my race plan complete with crew and pacer instructions. After consulting the fabulous Sherrie Klover, I have decided I'm going to tentatively shoot for a 28-30 hour finish, but I would honestly be happy with a 31:59:59 if it came down to it.

As always, I'm incredibly grateful for the support I've been shown from my family, my friends, my Trail Nerds and Mudbabes, and my coworkers who all think I'm crazy but wish me luck nonetheless.

Everybody seems to already know I will succeed. Everybody except for me.

But not knowing is sometimes the most exciting part.

I hope you will all think of me as you go about your weekend business on Saturday and Sunday. I'll need all the positive energy, happy thoughts, good ju-ju, and voodoo spells you can send my way.

The end of this road is near...