Sunday, February 21, 2021

Am I ready to run 100 miles?


Here I am, heading into race week deep in the throes of the taper crazies and I have to ask myself … am I ready to run 100 miles?

Back in August of 2020, after weeks of talking and considering, my friend finally talked me into signing up to run 100 miles. As I signed in to UltraSignup, found the race and clicked through all of the prompts to register, I was filled with invigorating excitement to be reaching for something well outside of my comfort zone. It didn’t take much time though before I was met with an enormous amount of self-doubt.

You see, as a runner there is nothing quite like signing up for the next distance. As an ultrarunner, that often means the next stretch goal is pretty lofty. New runners often follow the route of 5k, 10k, half marathon, and full marathon. An ultramarathon is anything beyond a full marathon or 26.2 miles.

By the time I was sitting there in my car with my phone in hand, with UltraSignup pulled up and ready to take the plunge I had completed a handful of 50k races and one 50 mile run. I suppose I could have signed up for a 100k race but I instead went right for the big one and signed up to run 100 miles in 34 hours.

When I first started trail running and would run with seasoned ultrarunners, I would hear them talk of their 100 mile race plans and adventures. I couldn’t even imagine what would make someone want to run 100 miles. It was so far away from anything I ever thought I would try to do. If I’m being completely honest, I don’t think I had ever believed I could do something so big and challenging. Sometimes it takes a friend to convince you that you are strong and that anything is possible if you commit and put in the work.

So that is what I have done. Miles upon miles of training. Hours and hours in the woods, grinding out intentional practice and training growing stronger and more confident at each mile.

It wasn’t all fun though. Deciding to try to do something I have never done before is a level of vulnerability that consistently made me question myself and my ability to really achieve this big stretch goal I was working toward. All these hours on the trail were hours away from my family. Hours squeezed in before a workday. When training ramped up there were plenty of times I cried on the trail, questioned my reasoning and made me wonder if all of this was worth it. Never once though did I think about stopping. 

Each time I questioned myself and my reasons behind running this distance, I was met with something that helped me center myself and appreciate what this journey means to me. I am learning that staying comfortable where success is certain and failure is unlikely is predictable but it sure isn’t very much fun. 

I listened to podcasts and audible books and sought out as much information as possible about dreaming big, preparing for the unexpected, living a life of intention and not only learning but really integrating the fact that everything we have ever wanted is on the other side of fear.

Between when I signed up for the race and today, I have ran over 1200 miles. Each mile was intentional with the long-term goal of 100 miles in mind. Some miles were easy and fun and lighthearted, and some were a full struggle ending with tears as I trudged back to my car. Running into friends on trails and keeping so many solo to avoid catching covid as I inched closer to race day. These 7ish months of training have been an adventure from the start. An intense journey to see what I am really capable of.

Some things I learned during the 1200 miles of training include:
  • Something always hurt. Yes, always. Thankfully it was never an injury so I just kept going.
  • My husband and my boys are always my biggest supporters and cheerleaders.
  • More than anything, I am so incredibly grateful for this body that continues to rise to what I expect of it.
  • I love trail running. I mean, I really love it. Running connects me to the world and the ground in a way that I never expected. You know how at the end of the movie Almost Famous when the bandaid tries to explain what it's like to love one tiny piece of music SO MUCH that it hurts? That is how much I love running in the woods. So much it hurts. Or maybe that's just because of that first point up there 😄
  • Fighting with a friend can actually strengthen a friendship, if it is built on trust and respect.
  • I love to eat lots and lots (and lots) of food. Especially Anna-safe pizza and Chipotle.
  • Gratitude is the antidote to pain. If something is painful, look for the gratitude, it's there. I promise. 
No matter how the race plays out, this journey to get to the starting line of my first 100 mile race has filled my heart with so much joy. Spending time working toward something I believe in, that builds me up and helps me grow as a person, a partner, a parent and as a friend will forever be one of the very best things I ever decided to do for myself. 

I’ve put in the work, now all I have to do is get in the arena and finish this damn thing.