Hey out there,
This last week has been a good one, filled with adventure and training. A bunch of us from the Runner's World discussion board (www.forums.runnersworld.com/eve) got together for a day of running on the Western States trail on Saturday. For some odd reason, we all decided to run the downhill course backwards. For those familiar with the area, we traveled 32 miles from the town of Forresthill in the Sierra foothill area to Robinson Flat, which is squarely in National Forest land. A couple people estimated an elevation gain of 10,000 ft over the course of the run, which is a lot! While some may question the judgement of such a run a week from the start of the AC100, we took our time to enjoy the scenery and not burn ourselves out. We ended up taking just a shade over 10 hours for the odyssey, which included stops to eat, jump in the rivers to cool off, and avoiding errant hunters in the area.I have to say, that was the most fun I’ve had during a training run in a long while. Training in a vacuum, the one thing I’ve missed as I’ve gone up to the ultramarathon distances is training with others. Granted, the pool of ultramarathoners is small to begin with. But, in the process of doing this run, I realized that I probably didn’t have the motivation to finish it one week out from the AC100 if it wasn’t for the company of my fellow Runner’s World Forumites. It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t do a 32 mile run, but the fact that as a naturally social being, the lack of connectedness to others was in some ways stifling my training. It kind of got me nostalgic for those days when my good friend John Soggs and I trained for the 2001 Los Angeles Marathon, my first.
John was an accomplished runner, having posted a 4:06 mile in college and completed an Ironman competition only a year or so back. Considering that I had run only as far as a 12k (on two occasions), I was the one who was struggling to get up to speed with him during our 7 crazy weeks of training for the race. When we’d finish our training runs around the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, I could feel that he was stronger than me and tried hard to keep my heavy breathing to a minimum. I didn’t want him to think that I couldn’t do it and pushed myself to keep up. The beauty of it was that by aligning myself with someone who would push me further, I had put my ego in a position to either “put up or shut up”. The fact that that training partner was a friend only made the choice to “put up” that much easier. Even if I wanted to let myself down, I could not let down my friend. I hope to continue to have opportunities to both train with others and help train others to reach their goals. I don’t know if I’ll ever love running, but I love people and running is just avenue to express that. I want others to have that feeling of being emptied of every ounce of energy you have, and still continuing to reach for that finish line regardless of whether you get there.
On this September 11th, I just want to remember all the people who lost there lives in the tragedy 6 years ago. As the years pass, the emotions brought forth by this day will change, but the fact that so many people lost there lives will not. God bless their families and loved ones as they continue to cope with the loss.
P.S. If you want to follow the race, the webcast is starting this Saturday at 5 am and goes through Sunday at www.ac100.com.