Saturday, May 18, 2013

Musings on 100 miles

I started this post around a month ago, but I have to admit I wasn't sure what to say.  I have at the same time everything and nothing to say about this run.  How do you condense 100 miles of running (well "running") into a post that someone will want to read?  I wrote something up for my track club where I split it into laps, but it was still super boring.  I mean really - nothing interesting happened.  I started running at 6AM, and after 2 laps, I felt pretty good, so I launched into my 'sub 22:30' plan, which involved starting at 10:30/mile and slowing down 1 min/mile each lap.  Which I did.  Basically, everything went according to plan, and I surpassed even my stretch goal of 22:30 (I considered 'realistic' to be something around 24:00) by finishing in 22:08:37.  I'm definitely happy.  But here's where things get weird and philosophical.

I know I could have gone faster.  I was intentionally very conservative because goal #1 was to finish.  ...and goal #1 was VERY important.  I can't overstate that.  After Vermont last year, I needed to finish. So I'm happy I stuck with the plan and finished.  ...but I was also less than an hour out of 2nd place.  And while one of the people ahead of me was still kicking ass and taking names (cheers to you, 62-year-old Maria Shields - you are awesome!), the other two were definitely not.  One was a good friend of mine, and according to all reports, was definitely maxed out by the end.  The other had been in second up to about lap 6 and had started a precipitous backward slide in the standings after that.  So some little part of me wonders where I would have finished if I had been a wee bit more aggressive, as I was completely lucid and conversational the whole time, and could walk like a normal person by about Wednesday of that week.  This is not to say I regret anything, nor do I have any ill will toward those nice ladies ahead of me - just a bit wondery about the whole thing.  What's funny, though, is how resolute I still feel about NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN.

It wasn't at all a bad experience.  I mean sure - there were parts that I enjoyed less than others.  ...and I was reminded a couple weeks ago that I told my lap 7 pacer that "this (was) stupid" and "not fun at all", and that there was "no reason for anyone to be doing this".  But really, nothing was ever terrible.  Also, training went really well.  I got all my loooong runs in, and still managed to keep my pace up on my speedwork.  Aside from a couple naggy parts of my body, training actually felt great, and I was in at least the second best shape of my life going in to the race.  So that was awesome.  But here's the thing - I missed NOT running on the weekend.  I had to skip a number of events I would have loved to attend because I 'had to run 35 (or whatever) miles that day'.  Training for a normal race, you can just get up early or shuffle your days around if you have something you want to do that day.  Not so much for a 40-mile run.  Even starting at 5AM, you're not off trail till at least 1, which seems like you could get to something, but let's be real: if you get up at 4 to start a run at 5AM, then rush home and shower by say 2 or 2:30, you are not going to be a whole lot of fun at a 3PM event.  ...and that's a best-case scenario.  Training through the winter for an April race is infinitely better than training through the early summer for a late July race, but it still wasn't what I'd call fun.  For me to want to do that again, I'd either have to become independently wealthy or work part time so I could get my longass runs in during the week, or there'd have to be some promise that I could drop many multiple hours off my time.  I don't think that even getting into the 20 hour ballpark would be enticing enough.  Also, while I'm totally convinced I could drop significant time, I'm not convinced I could drop 2 hours.  So that's that.  I wonder how much better I could do, but not enough to actually do it again.  Is that weird?

Anyway, sorry for the weirdness on this one - I felt like I should write something about this big ol' life milestone, but I didn't know what to say as it's at once momentous and a non-event, and I'm at the same time ecstatic and wondering what could have been. I don't want to leave you on a low note, though, so here's a fun picture from the race:

This was actually on lap 3 or 4,
but it's similar to how I looked at the finish

I also need to thank the amazing race directors and volunteers out there - the amount of time and energy spent to help a lucky few of us achieve our bucket list goals, is amazing, and I hope they (you) know how much we appreciate it <3

OOH! As an addendum, I also give you my favorite epiphany from the day: being a girl is AWESOME because when you pee, YOU GET TO SIT DOWN for a minute.  I have never been so excited to hydrate in my life.