Monday, August 20, 2012

An Improbable Distance

Ascending Hope Pass inbound, my quads cramping like the devil.  You have to keep smiling. (Photo by Jill Suarez)
Earlier this year, I don't know if it was before or after the Rocky Raccoon 100 but sometime in there I really began to doubt that any good reasons existed for even trying to run 100 miles and I was also fairly convinced that there really was not even adequate reward on the other side of  finishing one.  Why run 100 miles someone else had posted on their blog and it really got me to thinking.  Seriously... why even try?  It hurts, takes time and just the training alone is damned near murderous.

And even after running a few, the idea, the concept whatever of 100 contiguous miles of ANYTHING just seems too huge to even be doable... Possible maybe... Probable?  Not so much.

I think it comes down to this,when you run a 100 mile race, things are going to happen.  Period.  Pain, feeling sick, blisters, getting hurt and such.  Just things.  When you are on the line for 100 miler you know things are going to pop up, the only question is what.  Then the question becomes can you really finish it?  Any other distance I feel more than confident starting a race but for 100 miles, tha tis is where all of the uncertainty comes in.  For me I think this is the allure of 100 mile races.  Shit happens and to finish you need to be able to cope, compensate and overcome whatever is going on if you want to finish.  Period.  That is also assuming that you started the race healthy, properly trained and tapered, and ready to face it.  You have to have confidence to start a 100 mile race otherwise you are screwed but you also have to accept that a certain amount of unknown is out there lurking and waiting mile after mile.

This past weekend's Leadville Trail 100 finally clarified the answers to my questions... It also proved to me that I can adapt and keep going.  Things did happen out there and not all of it pleasant such as puking 30 times I bet during the middle 30 miles of the race and having a calf cramp on the inbound/north side of Hope pass which was more physical pain than I have ever experienced.  Ever.  My right calf turned into a quivering softball like mass with it's own heartbeat.  I kid you not.  Thank god that Jill my pacer was calming and present enough to get me to breathe, relax and let it work out before our great run the rest of the way down the pass.

I did not hit my A goal for this race and I am quite happy with that.  I am happy and content with how this race went and I know deep in my heart that I ran the absolute best race that I could have on Saturday/Sunday and I can't tell you just how satisfying that knowledge is. I am not going to spend the next X many months agonizing over the minutes that I lost on the middle of the race and why or what I could have done differently to get me further ahead... I know what happened and I know I went my hardest and fastest that I could for this race.  Nothing could or needs to be changed.  And anyway let's not forget that I did get  a new PR (26:05:27)and damned near two full hours faster than LAST year! Plus I have to admit a certain secret pleasure in breaking my pacer after 20 miles or so and having to cheer HIM on running down Haggerman Road.  Seriously all funny business aside, Ray was an awesome pacer and great company and he even got me a replacement pacer for the last five miles, Neeraj who I'd run with again ANYTIME.

It's time to scale back and enjoy my life and do some other things.  I am definitely excited about the Fall Series, some other races and also doing the Ascent next year and if anyone would like me to pace them at Leadville in 2013 let me know cause in 2014 I am going back. 

Lastly I just want to say thank you to everyone who helped me get ready this year.  Melissa who lives with me everyday, day after day who endures tales of splits, times, shoes etc... and who was out there kicking ass crewing me through this race.  My daughter Annie who came up from FOCO to help Melissa through the night.  Getting to see Annie when I got to TL inbound was a treat and it was so nice to run with that little section through town.  To Jill and Simon, Jill paced me and she did an awesome job and Simon who was able to quikly retape my feet once we got to TL.  After Simon's finish in the PPA they both came up to help me out and I really appreciate it.  To Ray who I have known since I started ultrarunning in 2009 and has always been a huge motivator for me... thank  you so much for taking the time to come up this weekend and run the course with me. To "Litha" whom I ran many a miles with the summer in prep for this race and who I was allowed to share my tips and tricks with... we had a great summer training, thank  you.  And finally to all of my many friends that I got to see along the course who cheered me on... thank you for being there and calling out and letting me know you were there... Thank you all.

Time to get into the humidor!


  1. I can tell you why you run 100 miles and I'm not even a runner but I do admire mountain climbers. Running 100 miles (or whatever number is a challenge to you)is tantamount to climbing a mountain - it's an analogy for life. Life (hopefully) is a long haul with lots of ups and downs and if you're lucky fewer downs than ups. Running 100 miles teaches you that you can set a goal and achieve it and even as things go wrong, you can work through it and cope. Some day when you're having a really shit time of it and you think you can't go on, you'll look back at that 100 mile race and think "I made it through that so I can make it through this." and you will be right.

  2. Awesome job Andy.
    "It's time to scale back and enjoy my life and do some other things" I love it.

  3. The Incouragable Judge LithaAugust 20, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    Melissa is right, and it's quite an analogy. You did awesome, just like you planned, and you are the creator of your own destiny. Well done out there, and way to show yourself up ;-)

  4. Epic. I am in awe! Congratulations! I can't imagine going on from that much puking in the middle of the race to finishing the race!

  5. We will have a big buckle pity party one of these days. But until then remember that we didn't quit and we gutted out another finish in the mountains.

  6. @Brandon, yes we will and we did gut it out while we were out there. Like I told you and you told me respectively, it was a tough battle out there and definitely a long day.

  7. Finally got around to reading your report. Congrats to you for gutting it out (literally and figuratively). Enjoy it and savor the success. Craig