In 67 hours I will be beginning my first 100 mile race. Nervous? A little bit. More anxious than anything. Anxious to see what the weather will be like (it has taken a turn for the worse ion the past few days with the projected highs hiking up from 75 to 88), anxious to see what the course will be like and anxious to see if my training was enough.
I think few people “enjoy” running long-distance races like marathons and the like. Follow me here. Given the amount of energy one must expend, the pain and muscle fatigue a runner must go through, I do not think that during the 26.2 miles (or 50k, or 100 miles or what have you) that you are enjoying the effort. And akin to what I heard someone once say to people who read magazines when they are on a treadmill, “If you can do that, you aren’t working hard enough”. And if you can enjoy the race in the middle of the race, well, chances are you aren’t running hard enough either.
Sure, glimpses of beautiful scenery are wonderful, as are cheering fans, or a babbling brook or any other bit of nature or landmark in a city that you love. But those glimpses are fleeting. You pass Heartbreak Hill or the deer that goes bounding by you or that gorgeous vista in South Dakota and it is back to the race. Back to pushing yourself to excel.
What I DO think that people enjoy is having DONE a race. The sense of accomplishment when you are finished is the elixir that brings us back. Being able to STOP running, assess what you just accomplished and then begin planning your next race and thinking about how you can improve is the hook for most runners.
So, when people ask me why I want to do a 100 mile race, I tell them I do not. I tell them I want to see if I can do it. I also want to see what it feels like to do something I have never done before. And when I am done, I will want to see what it feels like to run it faster. Or run it somewhere else in the country. Or what it feels like on A Sunday rather than a Saturday.
My OD 100 follows two days after my birthday. No longer a 30-year old, I am now 30-something. The present I have given to myself is the gift of a challenge. With my two good friends, Christine and Katie crewing for me, I feel this will be a challenge I meet head on and will succeed.
I could also crash and burn at mile 86. And I can definitely tell you that is something I do not want to do.