The Year of the Rabbit

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Anxious milling around the start last year

Well, I want to think and type things out before I sign up for my first 100 mile running race (Run Rabbit Run 100). This race isn’t going to be easy to say the least and I want to make sure I’m ready to do what it takes to finish (give myself the best chance to finish). I’m going to go ahead and eliminate that “give myself a chance” part right now too. Realistically, this is going to be brutally difficult, but that is going to be a hell of a lot worse if I doubt without evidence. I’ll present my case to finish and let race day issue the verdict.

Do I want this goal enough? A quick ‘Yes!’ is easy for me to find, but I know from prior experience that the exclamation point can be very challenging to maintain. After running numerous marathons over the past several years; I know the difference between when I’m committed and when I’m ambivalent or crashed. Luckily, I accomplished my primary running goals for the past two years.

However, I found myself thoroughly burnt out by the end of the last two years as well. There is a long road ahead to achieve my goal for this year! I am a firm believer in creating your own luck and I have zero interest in signing up for a race if I’m not going to give a spirited effort. Effort is far from a guarantee of success but having a lack of it has also been responsible for some of my disappointing results. I’ve often learned from those displeasures and annoyedly shrugged off others (after allowing more time to pass), but they also have a way of lingering in my mind too.

So, how do I know if I’m ready? Well, when I reflect on last year; I had an amazing time and want more of that! Training had its ups and down to be certain, but the reward massively outweighed the effort. As I neared the start of the Never Summer 100km (my goal race for last year), I was feeling very tired and mentally fatigued. On race day, none of that mattered anymore though and the run was an incredible success for me on almost every level! I fully expected to enjoy the race, but it was so far above and beyond what I could have ever imagined that I was profoundly energized (I wrote a long race report before, so check that out if you want a rerun. Sometimes I reread it or think about the Never Summer 100k when I doubt myself in running or life).

I felt so deeply satisfied when I achieved my goal, that I suddenly believed I could do anything (you know, within reason). My mind and body felt very strong after the race too, so I quickly shifted my focus toward attempting to run a PR road marathon or even qualifying for the Boston Marathon at the end of last year. However, that momentum fell flat on its face only a few weeks later as I struggled with a minor, nagging pain in my leg. After breaking down physically a little bit, my motivation left my legs as well. My accomplishment retreated into the mountains and my enthusiasm for running was soon non-existent; or at best, oscillating between acute dislike and ambivalence. I was elated that I finished my 100k and did so well, but that race really took an incredible amount out of me and the next several months were a struggle for me mentally.

I became increasingly frustrated with the way things were going with my job and personal life and running ceased to provide me the comfort or distraction that it has so many times before. I needed a break from running to recharge, but my happiness simultaneously demanded its presence. Thankfully that all started to chance when I had the honor of pacing my friend Allen at the Run Rabbit Run 100 mile race in September!

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From last year’s race: Allen eyeing the finish!

The race was incredible to see in person; and, it was really inspiring to see Allen’s effort and determination. Watching several other friends and the rest of the racers battle the course was an amazing experience as well. I’d been up to the Leadville 100 earlier in the year and in prior years, which was very cool too. However, pacing in the dark and cold under a shining full moon in the middle of the night connected me to the event in a new way. I had never realistically considered completing a 100 mile race until enjoying that weekend up in Steamboat last year. Traveling around from aid station to aid station for over a day while Allen and others ran was an unbelievable spectacle to witness. It is one thing to consider how far 100 miles truly is, but it was another thing entirely to be so close to the race and watch your friends attack it!

That weekend helped reanimate my passion and interest in running and now that I’m considering running a 100 myself; well, that is a whole different animal once again! The prospect of actually completing the race myself is sort of terrifying to be honest. I was certainly intimidated by the idea of running a marathon several years ago. Then, I was even more troubled by the task of covering a mountainous 100km last summer. However, I attained those lofty goals through hard work and determination; so, surely that should boost my confidence. I mean, is this really so different? Well, it sure as hell seems like it right now!

And therein lies an aspect of the great appeal of attacking a 100 mile race to me! If I only tried to accomplish what I thought was readily attainable; I would have missed some truly awesome experiences in my life. In fact, I know that I’ve already had that happen far too many times (my zombie existence in my accounting career is a prime example). At several points, I settled and decided to follow the shortest path from point A to point B. I’ve realized that the most expedient route seldom gets me where I want to be though (yes, I’m trapped in this metaphor now. Getting to a finish line quickly in races is always recommended).

METAPHOR exits stage left

Well, I quit my job a little over a month ago and I am determined to follow a new, unknown path into the future this time. I’m tired of turning down my goals and dreams when they seem too difficult. I’m feeling a little lost and stupid again right now as ponder my next move; but so long as I keep moving, I know I’ll end up becoming myself again.

Now I’ve officially signed up for Run Rabbit Run 100! As I typed this, I realized that the metaphorical and real worlds have once again merged into the world I inhabit. Starting is the first and perhaps most important step toward success. One step down…um, yeah let’s not think about the how many steps to go part right now.

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Yeah, why not?!

Strava from pacing Allen last year:

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