Sunday, April 3, 2011
As I read the entrants list I have to laugh, Callahan, Clark, Jurek, then there's my name just a few spaces above Karl Meltzer. Let me say this right up front, I know I am in way over my head, which leads me to search for an answer to the question that will inevitably come from those who don't get it...why? In a sport (or in my case a hobby) where participation puts your better judgement into question with most folks, explaining why I would want to run this race is somewhat of a challenge. The easy answer is of course...to see how far I can push my body, or the chance to run on the most difficult 100 mile course in the country. I'm sure at some level both of these reasons play into why I am doing this, but it is somewhat more complicated than that. For the past five years my naive belief that if you whole heartedly apply yourself towards something and work at it tenaciously, success will follow has been somewhat dispelled. Unfortunately I have been reminded all to often that's not the way life works. Whether it be a career, a business venture or parenting, things haven't always turned out the way I planned just because I worked hard at them. Although I realize God allows us to experience set backs and frustrations in order to grow us and to make us stronger for what lies ahead (which in and of itself is a scary thought) that has done little to reduce the pain and disappointed of my perceived failures. On the other hand I know success, brings with it confidence and confidence gives us courage to attempt even greater things in the future. So anyway... why Hardrock? I need to remind myself that it is possible to dream big, even knowing there is no way I can achieve them on my own power. I need to apply myself totally while keeping focused on where the power comes from. In the end I need to experience the joy of knowing I have held nothing back, achieving what I set out to do and in the process gaining the confidence to begin moving forward, rebuilding so much of what seems broken.
For those unfamiliar with The Hardrock 100... it's web-site refers to it as a graduate level challenge for endurance runners. Just to be entered in the lottery you must complete one of nineteen other 100's deemed tough enough to qualify you. This year's race is scheduled for July 8, and is run through the San Juan Mountains of South West Colorado at an average elevation of 11,200 feet. The race boasts 68,000 vertical feet of elevation change split evenly between up and down. To put that in perspective; sea level to the top of Everest and back would be around 58,000 feet. Throughout the duration of the 101.3 miles, runners must climb above 12,000 feet 13 times, once climbing to 14,000 feet going over Handie's Peak. Even in July several of these passes will still be covered with snow.With a 48 hour time limit, the longest of any 100 miler in the US, the average finishing rate is an encouraging 72% run in an average time of 41:10.
Despite running well at Coyote Two Moons ( a Hardrock qualifier) before the race was called late in the race due to dangerous weather conditions, I am well aware of the challenge in front of me. I have three months to get in the best shape of my life. So, to help me engineer a plan that will give me the best possible shot at crossing the finish line, I have enlisted the aid of five time champion and fellow Utahan Karl Meltzer. Among Karl's many achievements, he has won Hardrock five times and holds the Counter Clockwise Course Record time of 24:38. If there is anyone who might provide some wisdom on reaching the finish line at Hardrock it would be Karl, who has been coaching runners since 2007. This past week was the first week of my official Hardrock training plan. In addition to sound direction, I found the accountability of having to report into him is also a great motivator. Next week the miles jump to 56, it will be fun to see how my body reacts just two and half weeks after C2M. Hopefully today's snow will be the last, and at least some of the trails in the lower elevations of the Wasatch will soon be clear for training.
Having both a structured training plan and the Wasatch Range to train in, gives me a great deal of confidence to do well come July. In the weeks between now and then, I will use this Blog to share thoughts not only on how my 48 year old body is responding to this level of training, but also the challenges of juggling all of this with being a Husband and a Dad, as well as working a full time job. I am sure I will learn a lot about myself in the next three months. While that is not always a pleasant thing, I pray I will be able to manage it all, knowing no matter how hard I try I can never do it solely on my own strength, but that of a God that has not given up on me, even when at times I have given up on myself. That's all for now...I need to go run!