Monday, June 11, 2012

12 days and counting....

March 2009,

I got an email from a college buddy who was asking for donations for a run he was doing. A casino here in Reno has an event where you climb all the stairs to the top of the building. It’s for charity. I sent him $20 and I remember thinking, there was a time when I did stuff like that. I spent 2 days pondering where that guy went, why he went away, and did I want him back in some capacity. I know my buddy never realized the impact that email would have, especially on me. In the end, he was the one giving me the charity. He lit the spark, now it was my job to stoke the fire.

Less than a week later I’d decided was going to run Western States. That is how I roll, some love it, some do not, but there is very little grey area with me. I'm the type to jump into the pool before I know how to swim. Moderation is not a word you would use to describe how I do things. 

I hoped on the internet looked up the website for Western States and to my surprise only 400 people could run it a year, and over 2000 wanted in. Even worse you had to qualify just to get into the lotto. Slightly dejected I wandered my way around and figured out not all 100 mile races were like this.  I immediately formulated a plan. I’ll run a 50k in July, a 50 miler in January and I’ll run the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 in July 2010. Then I'll be qualified for States and will run it in 2011 under 24 hours (shooting high again, gotta love being naive)!

I came home and announced to my better half that I was going to run a 50k. She asked how far that was and when I told her she gave me the  “you are nuts” look. I found a 3 month training program and mostly followed it. I say mostly because the program I got, ended up being a very elite ultra runner’s program that I found on the net. At the time, I  ran at most 6 miles a week, so finding this schedule which called for 50 miles a week from the start was stupid on every level, but that's what I did. I think I made it 3 weeks before I realized there was no way I could follow it to the T.  I did everything on my own and showed up for the first 50k in OK shape.

26 miles into the Tahoe Rim Trail 50k and I was having the time of my life. Then it hit, the bonk, the wall, the “I am done with this” thought crept in. Being totally honest it might have also been the Jim Beam shot I took at the Hobart Aid station. They were giving them out and I was thirsty, what's a guy who hates water to do? In my training I never ate, never took salts or electrolytes and drank as little water as possible. The next 7 miles were the toughest I’d ever experienced. It was funny how for the first 26 I made fun of the people at the aid stations who were devouring everything they could as I passed them all. You dummy I thought, do you not realize you are just letting me pass you in these aid stops? Well, at about mile 28 each and every one of those dummies passed the “smart guy” who never stopped at aid stations. Many of those dummies gave me water, food and salts while I sat on the side of the course waiting for my body to let me continue.My competitors were helping me....who does that? I'd later learn you really compete with the clock and the course in these things. Unless you have a shot at winning, which is not the case for me, the camaraderie with other participants drastically increases the joy you get from the event and makes the undertaking seem a bit more plausible knowing you are not alone. You are all on the same team trying to beat the course and the clock.

Once finished, I was a mess. I am an hours drive home from the race, but I swear it took us multiple hours. It seemed like after every turn I’d start to dry heave and my gal would have to pull over and watch me attempt to get what was not really in there, out. I’d realized by that point I might need help to do this, but I was not really sure I wanted to do it anymore. I hurt and I was so sore the next week!

I had worked myself up to a good fitness level but Burning Man was on the horizon and I stopped running to focus on that. I started back up in November 2009 set to run a 50 mile race in early 2010. I got myself in shape for a 50k in just months and I was already in better shape than when I started. A couple of months to get into 50 mile shape seemed appropriate.

Much later I would learn that line of thinking and training gets you in big trouble at some point, generally ending in something being busted or broken. Unbeknownst to me, I'd be getting very familiar with busted and broken body parts in 2010 which I call the year of the foot.