My heart is already beating faster as I even think about typing this blog. Its Thursday and I have a big and exciting weekend ahead...race weekend! Even if I'm not going to be breaking the tape in first place, it's not about winning, it's simply about competing against yourself and digging deep to find out just how far you can push yourself, physically and mentally. Eeeeee RACE WEEKEND; it's fun!
Just six weeks ago though I wasn't even planning on running an ultramarathon this year. After last year's run, and this winter's low mileage, I just didn't feel prepared to hit the trails for hours on end. I was feeling unmotivated to run longer than an hour, and I truly believe that athletics & passion can't be forced, so I listened to my body (and mind) and keep my runs short and sweet. I was hitting between 15-20 miles per week, so that was enough to keep me happy, but not nearly enough to even really think about doing a half marathon.
Weeeeell, that was until I picked up the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. The book is all about running, injuries, the benefits of running barefoot, and these super freak ultra runners who trek the trails for hundreds of miles. Though I've heard many stories about ultra runners, and read a few books on my own, there's something about the way McDougall writes the book that is so captivating and attractive that one can easily make sense of all the verbage he spits out. He beautifully writes a series of events into a perfect-storm kind of story that everything about long-distance running just makes sense. Of course we're made to run hundreds of miles on end barefoot, why didn't anyone else say so?
Side-stepping the whole barefoot topic for now, the whole running miles and miles on end is what resonated with me. The book instantly cured me of my lack of endurance training motivation, and before the back cover hit the last page I was logging online to sign up for the 50-mile NorthFace Endurance Challenge on September 17th, just outside of Madison, WI.
I had run this race before in 2009 as prep for last year's cross-country trek and I absolutely loved the course & the race, so I knew this would be an easy option in terms of choosing an ultra to run.
Well, once I had my money down for registration, I was pretty much locked it to run. Now it was just time to train; four weeks out and counting, it was time to, um, getting running.
Okay, I know, four weeks to ramp my miles up from 20 per week to 80+ per week; NOT highly recommended by me to anyone else that's looking to do an ultra, unless they are equally or more crazy than I. My training is far from conventional, but I feel I at least know (so far) what my body can handle. PLUS, if it wasn't going so well, then I could always just take my time and enjoy the trail for as long as NorthFace let me on the course (there are cut-off times in ultramarathons).
So, train I did; logging lots of back-to-back 20-mile days and running with everyone and anyone that would have my chatter. Somewhere along the way I started to feel awesome, so I signed up for another 50-mile race the following weekend (September 24th The Bear Chase). Then I ran some more and felt fantastic so I signed up for another 50-mile race in October (The Fall 50). And then I really started to enjoy the back-to-back days and noticed that NorthFace had more races on Sunday after my Saturday 50-miler, so I signed up for the longest race on Sunday, the half marathon.
And now it's race weekend!
What will my few weeks of training equate to for all these races clustered together? I am not really sure. BUT, at the very minimum, it will be quite the adventure finding out! :) I'll let you know...
If you want to track my chip on Facebook to see how I'm doing follow this link here & allow the application to post on your Facebook Wall : Track Ashley The race is the NorthFace Endurance Challenge in Madison & you can find both of my races (50-mile on Saturday & 13.1 on Sunday) by using my last name: Kumlien.