Yeah, yeah, it's an extra-long title, but a lot catchier than "Races in Places that Start With The Letter M."
I seem to have figured out a trend here. When I'm tapering for a race, I buy running gear. Of all kinds. Because, you know, I might need some of that stuff some day. Maybe even use it all at once. Who knows. You can never be too prepared on race day, right?
When I am recovering from a race-and, more particularly, when I'm nearing the end of a recovery period, I sign up for races. Lots of them. Almost as a preventative measure because of some deep-seated fear that I'll lose all motivation and ability to run. If I'm registered for something, it means I need to get out there to train, or I'm just burning money for no good reason. Okay, okay-it's not anything as deep as that. I think I just like to pick new goal races as soon as possible, and keep that motivation level high without a down period of doing nothing in particular. So, without further ado...here's what I've been doing with a my bank debit card behind the computer screen:
Beyond the things I've already had on the schedule for awhile, I've recently added the Missoula Marathon. I joked that I am a big sucker who was caught, hook line and sinker, by the "Best Overall" title that Runners World magazine bestowed on the race in an article in the most recent issue covering some of the best marathons in the country. I'd never heard anything one way or another about the race, but when I read the article, so many reasons to do it, and reasons I would like it jumped out at me.
I had been wanting to add a third marathon to the schedule next year to go along with Boston, and the TBD fall marathon depending on how the New York City lottery works out. Missoula is in July, and splits the difference between summer and fall. It's not too big and not too small-my favorite kind of race where you have enough runners that there's kind of a festive environment, and good sized crew running the race, but not so huge that you're getting up at midnight to catch planes, trains and automobiles to the start where you wait sardined with 30,000 friends for hours. I love my long runs here with mountains in the background through our rural city, and, well-Missoula would be an opportunity to run past scenic mountain vistas to the heart of the small downtown of a fun rural city. That's also our idea of a good family vacation for a lot of reasons-we don't have the dough, nor do we have the interest in jetting off to some exotic beach for weeks, but we love loading up the family van and taking off on long weekend adventures. My husband already found a couple of nearby mountain biking routes, and can do a little of that while we're there. It's SO close to Glacier National Park, too-so that would be a fun place to take the family some time while we're there. I don't know if the race is filling at record pace, but after a few hours of talking about it with my better half, I decided I'd better go ahead and register just in case. Cha-CHING...done deal.
The other thing I've got going is this little event down in Moab. The Moab Red Hot 50+K/33K takes place in February, and I had originally signed up for the 33K. The change in elevation is not anywhere near the craziness of the Imogene Pass Run, and there's lots of nice flattish slick rock and dirt trails. Now, my friend Jen has been wanting to do an ultra for awhile. The girl started working on me to do the 50K. HAAAAAAAAAAAIL NOOOOOOOOOOOOO was my initial response, and subsequent response the next few times she brought it up.
She must have stuck some mind control device in my brain, though. By about the twelfth time she brought it up, saying "oh, you know, we just do it as a training exercise-no pressure!" I said "FINE. I will email the race director to see if I can switch divisions." I fully expected the answer to be no. You all know how these deals with races go. No cancellations, transfers, upgrades, downgrades, running backwards, in fuschia and orange striped shorts, or anything else that's different than what's in the strongly worded race rules and regulations. The longer race also costs more, and I knew that would be a pain to figure out how to pay the difference even if he said yes.
So, imagine my surprise when I got a response from the race director. "Sure, you can change to the 50K! I'll switch your name over to that list, but you might not see your name show up on that list until after registration closes. Bring an extra $16 with you on race day, and just find me and give it to me." How's that for low-tech and easy peasy? But, CRAP, I thought-what did I just do? Over the next twenty-four hours, my head was filled with thoughts like "You moron, what did you do that for? That's too far! You're going to get hurt! You're not ready! You're going to ruin Boston-MORON!" Oh, and only after the fact did I notice that it said 50+K (a little less than 34 miles) and not just 50K. Um, how did I miss a major detail like THIS IS A 34 MILE RUN?
After I got done with all that, on the verge of wanting to write him back with the tail between the legs, saying "just kidding," I checked out some slide show photos of the race. It looked REALLY sweet. Not easy (not that anyone would ever call an ultra easy), but there were lots of smiling faces, great views, excellent aid stations, and the route did indeed look somewhat manageable for a first ultra. This was confirmed by a RWOL forumite who ran it last year, and who was thinking of doing it again. Like I said, no huge, steep climbs, but kind of a rolling route for much of the way, going up for awhile but coming back down a bit at the end.
So-nervously, I decided to not chicken out, and really do this thing as a no-pressure day of trying something new that I think could make me a better runner in the long run for getting over my fears. I'm going to carefully bump my mileage up a bit now, make sure I get in some long runs on trails, and make that long run longer than it's been before. I'm kind of scared, for sure-but are we really getting anything out of our running if we never step out of the comfort zone or give things a little push from time to time? That's the story I am telling myself, anyway.