Sunday, February 28, 2010

100 miles and the mind

Hard to believe but I'm one month out from another 100 mile attempt.

I'll be headed back to the Umstead 100. This year's race sold out in about five minutes, so it's clear a bunch of die-hard athletes have an appetite for "easy" 100 milers. Umstead is near Raleigh, NC. It's a rather forgiving 12.5 mile loop, which turns your brain to mush as you circumnavigate the course eight (8) times.

I was walking across campus on a snowy day last week, pondering the outcome of what might transpire. Just what's the attraction? For me, it's the overwhelming validation that comes with the completion of these epic journeys. Knowing that I had the spit to stay on the course and keep going is a big component of my life. But, that perspective is not all upside. It has risks.

Looking back at Umstead 2008 makes the case in point. I finished in 27 hours and change, but it came at a high personal, emotional and physical cost. This time around, I'm taking a laid-back approach. I have committed to a gentle mindset where I'm OK with the final results, whatever distance I accomplish. I'll be competing in the event solo, with no crew to lean on and no excuses for lack of preparation. Just master competitor and the course and the enjoyment of ultrarunning.

I'm in a really great season of life. The more I age and look back in retrospect, the more I have become thankful for the good things - because I know what it's like to suffer in the bad times. Thankful for yet another day to run, thankful for a day with a pain-free back. Thankful for my job and health care and a place to call home.

And when the start command is given at Umstead, I'll be thankful that I'm part of yet another 100 mile attempt.

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