"If you wanna live life on your own terms you gotta be willing to crash and burn"
Motley Crue "Primal Scream"
It has been almost 2 years since I read "Born To Run" and 16 months since I started training. When I started I had "delusions of grandeur" in which I would become an ultrarunner who would be svelte and fast. In some respects I have succeeded, my time for the mile is down from around 18-20 min to 11-12 min range (it depends on whether I am running downhill with a tailwind or not). I have lost a fair amount of weight, but according to my BMI I am still in the obese category (5'9" 225lb go ahead, look it up I will wait. See? Who knew obese people ran?) However I have become stronger. How do I know this? First, my legs look damn good in my running tights. Second I can hold a plank for a minute (try it, it is really hard, even though two minutes makes you a stud according to Men's Health). Third, other than when my HR goes out of zone I can run and not get really tired, and I recover back to zone fairly quick, so I think I have fit into Eric's maxim of "get strong and then go long."
Have I run an ultra? Not yet, I kept waiting to lose weight or to get faster and of course, neither of those things happened so I was content to run half-marathons until I got fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon in my age group (go ahead and laugh, i will wait, I did when I really thought about it). Then I read another inspirational book by Steve Latour called "A Clydesdale Tale: How a Big Guy Trained for and Ran the Vermont 100." In case you don't know what a Clydesdale is it is a runner who is over 200 lbs, though some would say 220 is closer to the mark. Whichever definition you use I am definitely in the category. Steve's story mirrors mine in some ways so I can identify with his struggles of being a back of the pack runner. For us, the joy isn't in winning or setting a PR, it is in finishing and enjoying ourself along the course. My best time so far for the half-marathon is 3:08.13 (yes, it is slow I will be the first one to admit it). However I enjoyed the race since I ran it with a really great guy who was a much faster runner than me but stayed with me so we could talk baseball the whole time. After reading Steve's story I decided to embrace being a Clydesdale. Am I going to be fast? Probably not. Am I going to be a svelte 130lbs? I doubt it, unless there is a famine in the near future. Am I going to run races and finish them? You bet your ass I am!
After two half marathons the first half of this year (April and June) I am going to run a 50k. Why not a marathon first you ask? Well, that is a good question. Basically, there is a 50k on Labor Day weekend that is "easy" as 50k's go. It is also only a half hour drive away. There is a marathon in October that is closer, however it is freaking brutal, hilly as all get out and there is a time limit. So, I am going to live life on my own terms and take a chance on crashing and burning (to paraphrase Vince and the boys). Am I scared? No. Am I nervous? Damn skippy!!! Taking any leap into the unknown is scary. Even if I don't finish it is not the end of the world. As Steve says in his book every ultrarunner needs to come to grips with a DNF. If I DNF then at least I got it out of the way in the beginning and learn how to deal with the disappointment. Am I planning to DNF?? Definitely not, but as we said in the military, you plan for the worst and hope for the best. Everyone I have met in the trail-running and ultrarunning community has been awesome. I hope to become a member of that group someday. As Steve points out in his book only .0000024 percent of people on this planet have finished an ultra-marathon. I wonder what the percentage is for PhDs? It would be cool to be part of two groups that comprise less than 1% of the worlds population.
Anyway, enough rambling on my part. From today and now on I Carpe Diem!!! Seeing Mark Lofquist, John Hudak and others on here work towards their goals has been very inspirational to me (especially Mark who answered a lot of dumb questions from me, I hope you are still walking around with your chest out over finishing the JFK 50). However, I can't compare myself to them, Scott Jurek or Tony Krupicka. I can only compare myself to me. As Eric told Chris before the start of the race in Born to Run "you aren't going to win so you might as well enjoy yourself." It was sage advice then and it is sage advice now. Dreams are great only as long as they are rooted in an achievable reality.