Why I need to finish a 100 mile race

I need to finish what I start. 

If my history has proven anything this may take years. However, I hope to finish a 100 mile trail run in 2021. College took more than four years; many starts and stops but I finished. 

Finishing triathlon and Ironman races took a more traditional path; I finished what I started right away.

I’m not exactly sure why I am compelled to race long. Maybe because I’m not fast. Maybe because I need to push myself and be out there longer. I don’t want to run Badwater or a 200 mile race – now that is crazy, but I’ve always liked a physical challenge. I’ve always needed a goal that was out there.

Where does this come from? I’m not sure. 

Growing up I always played team sports. Once I graduated from high school I started hiking and biking, I started doing individual sports. When I started running in 2004 while living in Steamboat everyone I knew had a training plan. Since then I’ve always loved a training plan even if I didn’t follow it exactly. I knew I needed one when I started running marathons and later training for my first Ironman.

I now think going long was a way to exhaust my over-thinking brain. Somehow running and biking long distance calmed my tendency to be high strung and anxious.

Ultra running and Ironman did the trick. 

I just feel better when I’m in the process of training for something I’m not sure I can do. 

Case in point: Leadville Training. 

Two years ago this month I started my 100 mile training plan with a goal to finish the Leadville 100 in August 2019. Nine months of training in the snow and cold, trail running, mountain running, a little mountain biking. I got to my race weight and felt like a million bucks. I finished a 50K, then a 50 miler and was ready for the 100. On race day at Leadville I DNF’d at mile 39. 

I don’t regret any of the time training for that event. I only regret letting my mind tell me to stop running. I want to fix that.

I’m ready to start training again and do it even better, which means mental training, running at night, waking up at 3 a.m. and running. It means weights and mountain biking. Laser Focus. I’m not even sure I’ll get into that race or a race, or if a race will even happen, but I’m going to try. 

Why do I need to finish a 100 mile race? I’m not content not to. I want to know what it’s like to cross a 100 mile finish line. I want to understand what my body must do to finish one. I need to finish what I started. I want the buckle.

Goals, Joy and Training

Now that I have finished my 4,000 in a year now it’s time to 

  1. Finish my grid (this will take years)
  2. Start training for Ironman Coeur d’Alene
  3. Finish a 100 mile trail run
  4. Ski – a lot

I’ve been following the 100 mile training plan so far. My watch tells me my training status is Productive – so that makes me happy.

Swimming has been difficult since the lanes at the Y fill up by 5:05 a.m. Biking is difficult because it’s cold however mountain biking is still possible. 

I mountain biked at Bear Brook this past weekend and since I was hiking every weekend my biking legs were a little ….. Under trained, let’s say. Sonja and Jay are so fun to bike with.

I’m considering a fat bike but haven’t looked into if I actually can find one. That could be fun.

However, I’m pretty psyched to ski. Gunstock is making snow this week and we are hopeful for a December 4 opening day. This is going to be so fun. 

These are the skis I’m considering. Aren’t they pretty and their name: Joy

https://www.head.com/en_US/sports/ski/joy

Everyone should have Joy in their life.

Do you like running?

This morning I read an article from a Facebook Group post. The article: Why I won’t stop running due to COVID.

The question the writer posed to himself “Do I like running?

McConaughy’s story made me think about this year and how wacky my training plans were compared to a year ago. Last year my motivation was high to run a race that was way out of my league and at high elevation. [Leadville]

The challenge spurred me on to do my training plan every day, lose weight and created a new world for me in ultra running. I remember feeling excited about every run. When I knew I had to run 10 miles or 20 miles, I was looking forward to the run, planning what I would listen to and what I would eat for a meal after (I love a good post-run food plan).

However, 2020 started so different because I was injured and training for a 100 mile race I wasn’t super excited about. Training and motivation were nothing like a year ago. The weather beat me up and I didn’t follow the plan. I wasn’t excited about running and spent more time in the gym lifting weights.

McConaughy’s article reminded me of the feeling of being on trails. As soon as I hit a trail I’m suddenly feeling better and happier. While I am faster on the roads (and like seeing a faster pace on Strava) and sometimes do enjoy roads, I’m happiest when I am surrounded by trees, running past an occasional stream and see dirt under my feet. 

Like him, “I was captivated by the challenge of trying to run longer distances in more wild places.” That’s why Leadville was such a positive in my life last year. The Leadville 100 was long and wild. I wasn’t sure if I could do it. That’s what got me up in the morning and out the door to train. That drive and happiness drove my desire in all aspects of my life. I was so excited for whatever was around each new corner. 

McConaughy asks himself and readers, Why do you enjoy running in the first place? For me, I like the simplicity of running. Not much gear is needed and I can open my door and go. I especially love running to the top of hill, and when I’m fit, I recover fast and keep running; it makes me see progress and makes me happy. I love the days when I can run 10 miles and it feels relatively easy. 

There may be no races this year but somehow I will run 100 miles if I have to do loops around my house and ask friends to support me.

I had this poster on my bedroom wall during high school. It’s still true.

Leadville 100 Canceled, 2020

I just read the news about Leadville 100 Run – canceled. My heart sank.

While I’m not racing it this year, I know how I felt at this time last year training for the August race: I was tapering for my first 50 miler as part of my 100 mile training plan, I was close to race weight, I was laser focused on training for my first 100 miler. Leadville was my entire world.

And to think that I went through all those tough training weekends and then the race was canceled – I’d be devistated.

However, in ultra running and triathlon there are so many things that can go wrong in any training cycle: injury, sickness, weather. There are so many factors at play in training for an A Race. We have to remain positive and know that it will be there next year.

I’m disappointed for my friends who are in the middle of training and planning for Leadville. I know they are sad.

Leadville, Scoping out the course before race day

At the same time I get a reminder of one of the best things I did in 2019: train for my first 100, travel to Colorado multiple times, run with friends at 10,000 feet and strive to finish something unknown.

Leadville 100 Race Morning

Training was hard but I was so motivated. Race day ended early with a disappointing DNF. But I’m not done with you Leadville. I will conquer you. I will run that red carpet.

And some day. Some day. I will be a Leadwoman. How’s that for lofty goals?!

Monday Motivation, First Tracks in the Snow

Here in Concord we got about 6 inches of snow this morning. The roads around my house are plowed so I head to the Winant Trails with my dog and snowshoes.

Winant Park, Concord NH

The photo above shows how gorgeous it was this morning. Not a soul out yet. I could hear snowplows in the distance but other than that it was peaceful.

Last night I came very close to signing up for an Ironman and had thoughts of signing up for the Leadville Camp/Run combo. Very dangerous. But instead I walked to the store and bought a pint of Ben & Jerry’s – Peanut Butter Cup.

I woke up with a sugar handover and still undecided about what races to do.

I’m signed up for the Houston Marathon and Umstead but am too injured to run. Okay, not much for Monday Motivation except for starting the day with a great snowshoe hike in the woods with my dog.