Race week is finally here! I can’t believe it’s been 30 weeks since my training build-up began for the most prestigious mountain-ultra-marathon in the country (world?). At times those 30 weeks felt like they were in slow motion – especially through the tough winter – but now it’s as if it went by in a flash. I have a few very distinct memories among the couple thousand miles I’ve run in the last 30 weeks … those are mine and not to be shared. Trying to describe them wouldn’t do them justice and believe-it-or-not despite social media, blogging, reading, and learning from others my world of distance running has been highly personal, introverted, and full of solitude (something I look to change soon – keep reading). I’ve already enjoyed the long journey to the starting line and am currently not letting myself think too much about how in one short (or long) day it will all be over.
And I’m ready.
I’ve punished (and listened to) my body, I’ve checked (and rechecked) my heart, and I am putting the finishing touches on strengthening (and calming) my mind. These last 10-14 days I am continuing to taper my body and mind. Less running, less planning, less thinking, more rest, more normal, more excitement. Most logistical details have been dealt with and all the physical training has been done … time to execute. The horses are in the barn … and they’re full of energy. My otherwise highly regimented and detailed training log has not been updated in a couple weeks as I’ve listened to exactly what my body needs (and doesn’t need) from the last touches of training and resisted the urge to over-analyze what I could’ve / should’ve / haven’t done …………. I’m ready.
Race Following / Runner Tracking
General WS Coverage:
Personal / Individual Coverage:
Below is an excerpt from my crew guide to give some perspective on how I am personally approaching this race.
This is a very different event than previous races you’ve seen me in. I have trained very hard to simulate and react to some of the highs & lows that will come while running 100 miles through the mountains, but some will be unrealized until I’m actually out there. There are a number of reasons I might not finish – nasty fall (broken arm/leg) or I’ve failed myself by making a pacing (cramping, heat stroke) or nutritional error that is irreversible or will put me in the hospital … these events would be extremely rare and I’m ok with not finishing at these lengths. There are 1600 volunteers and 100’s of medical professionals along the route’s 25 aid stations positioned every ~3-6 miles including 8 medical check points … I am MUCH more taken care of and safe than my solo Grand Canyon run.
With all of that said, I am fully confident I will run (and walk) this race to completion … I’ve done the research, I’ve trained the body, I’ve strengthened my mind, and calmed my soul. Different than shorter races there will be multiple normal “lows” in which I might not want to go on or think about running 10 (or 25, or 55) more miles throughout the race … it will seem impossible but it still won’t be in a very safe manner of problem solving (nutrition, gear, hydration, etc) and regrouping. I will finish this race under all of the above “normal” circumstances. Please encourage me to do so and get me to the finish line … I might walk for hours and miles on end, but I will finish in safety. Please encourage me in my decision making and urge me on when I’m down. I will not be “racing” the whole first 80 miles … I’ll be running – a pure joy to be with Him who created me. Not to be confused with happiness, this joy may include some serious pain but I’m longing for this joy (and pain) and want to give fair warning to you. Please don’t turn away or be frightened of the dead legs, mangled feet, vommiting, crapping, blood, sweat, and tears. Simply embrace it with me by rejoicing in the highs and fighting through the lows … love God through it … and remember Jesus who suffered an infinite amount more when the Father turned away as He suffered on the cross. All I’m doing is running 7 to 15 minutes per mile for crying out loud – it’s really not going to be as dramatic as it sounds …
I’ve decided this will be my last finish line to a certain extent. Of course I will always run recreationally, for fitness, enter more low-key races with family & friends, and I can even see myself back in the mountains & trails in the future. But I’ve decided this race will close out my years as a competitive distance runner investing in rigorous daily, weekly, & yearly training for a number of reasons – most of which reprioritize time and mission in our growing family and our local church (among other reasons). I feel so fortunate for this very rare opportunity while I’m still very fit and in my prime years to test my body, spirit, and mind.
I am so excited to invite you all into this world of trail ultra running I’ve grown to love and to share one of my great passions with those I love so much. Competitive endurance sports have been a platform to which I have my first memories of seeing my dad as a hero, my mom & sister more nervous for me than I am myself, meeting my best man & wife, but mostly having a more complete view into the nature of God and how to train ourselves towards Him. I don’t particularly want to talk about this chapter ending in my life the week of the race and I don’t plan on thinking about it during the race much as it probably won’t all sink in for weeks to come. I’m giving you this instruction now so you know how I might approach the whole race weekend and some of those last miles – no doubt with a tremendous amount of joy but also with a certain degree of sadness.
My dedication and passion as a distance runner is something very hard to describe or put words to but I hope this one-day journey gives you a quick insight to how God has made me, refined me, and blessed me to feel His pleasure. I will truly be so happy to have you all with me at the starting line, along the way, and especially the finish line.