Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Road to 50

Like everything else in life, things don't always go as planned.  We always try to adapt to what is thrown at us and hopefully still make it to our goal.  Sometimes we can, sometimes we can't, but if we put in a solid effort we can always be proud. 

Almost two weeks ago, I took on my fourth 50K and set a new personal record. This was my best 50K effort to date.  My original PR was from my first of the four, a flat hot race in Florida.  I followed that race up with two 5000+' climbing efforts, both on somewhat muddy trails, that resulted in significantly slower times.  I bucked down, I ran more hills, I ran in the mud, and I ran in the snow.  This past February I took on a crazy marathon in the mountains of Asheville, NC finishing the race in 3:42.  This was not a PR, but a break through in trail running.  I finished strong and happy, a first for a race of that distance.  I finished my latest 50K with a similar feeling, something that I am hoping will stay as a common theme in long distance racing. 

While running two weeks ago, I thought back to my race last February.   As I ascended and then descended on the muddiest of trails, I couldn't help but smile.  While it is a lot of work trying to find the best path, it is something that I have come to know and love.  As I continue to train for my first 50 miler, I just have to think back to the events in the past I have endured: 50K trail runs, 150 mile bike rides, and half iron triathlons. 

As I was recovering from my race last week, Amy crashed her bike at mile 17 of our 25 mile ride.  I hammered away for the last 8 miles to get to the car as fast as possible so I could get back and take Amy to the doctors.  The result was a broken collar bone. As I thought about Amy on the way back to the car I had weird feeling of existentialism.  How I felt didn't matter. All that mattered was I got back to the car and reduced the amount of time that Amy was suffering.

Over the past year I have had this feeling a few different times.  It originally began in the weeks after my son Neil was born (late June 2012).  When you have a baby crying in the middle of the night, you drop everything in an effort to help them.  Your sleep becomes less important.  Your hunger becomes less important. 

The reason I bring this up is that we become stronger by dealing with life's experiences.  Whether it is working a long shift, competing in a hard race, or dealing with a sick or tired child, they all help us become stronger people.   

As I continue to train for my first 50 mile race, I pull upon every experience I have to make me a tougher endurance athlete.  In the coming weeks I move on to mileage I have never run before.  Next weekend the back-to-back long runs begin with two 15-milers.  As I continue to push on, I just look back and remember, experience is the key.

- The Multisport Maniac

Amy recovering with Chilly Willy.

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