Ultra marathons fascinate me. Over the course of the last year or so I’ve found myself drawn to endurance runs and the athletes that run those races. Maybe it’s because one of my coworkers regularly runs 6-hour and 12-hour races and started encouraging me to join him – I haven’t yet. Perhaps it’s because I live in the same town and am a member of the same running club as ultra legends like this year’s Western State’s Endurance Run winner, Rob Krar. He was at the TRF track workout on Tuesday for crying out loud (not there to run, of course). We all cheered for him. Ultra running almost seems “common” here.
To be fair, however, much of my consumption of ultra information is voluntary and not just out of convenience. It could be that there are
plenty one or two Flagstaff residents who don’t know some runners actually race for 100 miles or realize they live near someone who wins those races regularly. I want to know! I read Eat and Run and Born to Run awhile back and started to think maybe, just maybe, I could do something like that.
Last year I took the plunge and signed up for my first 50K and really enjoyed it.
Since finishing the that race in February I haven’t made many solid racing decisions. Aside from signing up for Gaspin in the Aspen (August) and the Soulstice Mountain Trail Run (October) I haven’t scheduled a calendar of races. When the Sacred Mountain Trail Run 10K rolled around in May I ran because it was the first 5K I “ran the whole way” back in 2012.
I ran the 7K in TRF’s Hot Summer Nights trail run series because I wanted to be a part of our new race series on its first night.
Still, I haven’t been able to answer the question, “What are you training for now?”
Finishing a 50K feeling good is dangerous. Couple it with the nagging question: ‘what race are you training for?’ and it was bound to happen: I signed up for a 50 mile race… the McDowell Mountain Frenzy in December. I know I want to do it but I can’t clearly articulate why. I have tried to, but I haven’t been successful.
When a person chooses to take up running it can make some of the people in their lives squirm. Why would you want to run? I hate running! Isn’t that bad for your knees?
When that same person signs up to run a 5K/10K/half marathon their people finally come around in full support. They rally their troops and there is much to celebrate. The same seems to be true with a full marathon… though you do get a few shakes of the head and a lot of, “I could never do that!” “You are paying money to run that far?” and “26.2 miles is far to DRIVE!”
Signing up for the 50K and now the 50 miler has yielded a different (and mixed) response. Living in Flagstaff and belonging to this running community has surrounded me with people who whoop it up when they find out and are excited for me. It also means that I have a whole network of people who have done what I’m about to do and can offer advice and encouragement. On the other hand, there are many people in my life who now look at me like they honestly can’t understand any of the words I say following “50 miles” (though they still support me). Others look at me like they genuinely fear for my life and well-being (and aren’t sure about support… though they do still love me).
Training starts in August. I’m working on building a good mileage base right now. We shall see. I’m really excited and scared to death!
For fun reading:
Stephanie Howe’s reflections on her 3rd place finish at the Western States Endurance Run can be found on her blog: Adventures in Running.
My friend Erin Strout wrote an article for Runner’s World about 70-year old Gunhild Swanson’s finish six seconds before the 30-hour cutoff to become the oldest woman to do so in this race. You can also scroll down the Western States Endurance Run’s Facebook Page and watch the video of her finishing. While you’re on that page you’ll see plenty of pictures of Rob, too. We’re so incredibly proud of him!
What is the craziest running thing you’ve ever done?
What physical feat are you most proud of?
What goal(s) are you working toward right now?