Saturday at 7am I’ll be embarking on my first 50k trail race. I selected the Dead Horse event in Moab, UT to be my first long distance race for a few reasons. The biggest one is that the course looks fun and adventurous. One big lollipop loop through a part of the country that I love to explore. Being excited to actually run the course is important for me mentally. It can’t be about just doing the distance or trying to compete for the win.
Logistically, the race is a five hour drive, we can camp out of our adventure van, and the weather looks great with a high of 55 and low of 30 forecast for race day.
Mentally, I feel like I’ve needed the focus of this race. My brother Alex took his life this past June. I was super fit and race ready going into the summer then when that happened it put my mind and body in a funk that felt like it took a few months to dig out of. Running was really hard just after his death but also and good way to contemplate things and get some fresh air every day. Fitness wise, my body was just tight and not feeling good for most of the summer. I always felt like something, my hamstring, calf, or achilles was on the brink of tearing on my next hard run out the door.
The end of August came around and I felt like I needed to sign up for something challenging to focus my mind and spirit on. Dead Horse it was and that felt like a turning point for me. I started getting my mental and physical energy back, and my legs started feeling looser and ready to run hard. I won the Bear Creek Chase Trail Half Marathon to close out September. Two pictures from that below.
Then tragedy struck again and my stepdad George who was 84 but super healthy, died unexpectedly in October. He was much loved and it’s been hard to take his passing as he was such a joy to have in our lives.
Having the Dead Horse to focus on really has really helped me through his death though. It’s kept my mind level. It’s been a grieving process but getting out to run everyday has helped me take it in better.
Two weeks ago, I got third at the Backcountry Wilderness Trails Half Marathon in a stacked field which made me feel like I was still on track mentally and physically.
Training hasn’t been 100% but at a certain point you gotta just run what you brung and what I’m going to brung is going to be good enough. Or at least I think since I’ve never done this before! I did a couple of 18 mile runs. I got in some consistent 60 mile weeks. Could I or should I have done more? Absolutely. But as I’ve learned in my late 30’s, with a couple of kids and a business to run, I’ll never again train as perfectly as I did in my younger years. Nowadays, I love running more than ever but I set a cap on the mental and physical energy I put into it and I’m comfortable if that may leave my fitness a bit short. For me, it’s a tradeoff that’s well worth it.
So we’ll see how it goes Saturday. I’m always someone who can set aside the doubts on race day to carry the confidence needed to vie for the win. Looking at risks going in there are a few. Possible lack of fitness that I just mentioned. Another is that my legs have been feeling better and better but there is some lingering tightness that could be an issue in the late stages of the race. Another challenge could be cramping. Towards the end of 2+ hour races, especially when I’ve really put myself out there, I’ve had cramping issues in the past where a specific muscle or two starts to seize up. I think that the favorable weather and cruisier pace of a 50k should limit the cramping risk but we’ll see. I’ve also got some HotShot ready to if not. I see a huge amount of upside going into this race on the fact that I’ve been running for 25 years now. Almost all of years have been at a high training level of up to 100 miles run in a week or 20 hours of total training in a week. Hopefully old man strength and dad bod are useful out there on the trails at the end of the race.
The weekend as a whole should be really fun which is important to me. I rented out a group campsite and we’ve got a bunch of friends racing or just coming for the trip. Amy, Alistair and Jurgen are all coming too and we’ll have the adventure van, campfires, coffee to warm up the cold morning, and some cold beer post race.
Let’s see how it goes!