Friday, September 9, 2011

"You don't have to be fast. But you'd better be fearless."

"I agree to the dumbest things ..."  Katy McCabe

I just read that wonderful quote on the Facebook wall for an insane group workout planned for October 9th. Katy McCabe is one of the coolest, funniest, fittest chicks you could ever meet. The event is unofficially called "Four Thousand Ways To Fuck Up A Ten Mile Run" and it just started as a "wouldn't it be cool" conversation. Wouldn't it be cool to run 400m, then do 25 pushups, 25 situps, 25 squats and 25 burpees ... and repeat the whole thing 40 times. I threw the idea up on Facebook two days ago, inviting a few Spartan/Death Race/Crossfit friends, and all of a sudden there are over 50 people participating, all over North America, and lots more pending. Too much fun!!

Agreeing to the dumbest things has long been my modus operandi, although some would point out that I am, as often as not, the one also generating the dumb ideas. My most recent dumb idea was signing up for tomorrow's 100 Mile Ultramarathon on the trails of Haliburton Forest. Yep. 100 Miles.

That is about 70 miles further than I have ever run. Two marathons, yes. But both on flat, paved roads with crowds cheering us along. This will be all day and all night, in the dark woods, on steep mountain bike trails. Four marathons, back to back to back to back.

Why did I sign up for the 100 mile? There IS a 50 mile, a 50km and a 26km division. In fact, my original intention was to sign up for the 50 Mile, as that would be a huge leap from what I have done so far. But I didn't get around to it. I wasn't compelled to sign up. Probably because the outcome was predictable ... I would finish, sore but intact. The 100 on the other hand - there is some serious mystery there. Some BIG question marks.
“A good athlete, a strong athlete ... can fake their way through a marathon. They can kind of grunt it out,” says Dean Karnazes. “It might not be pretty, but they can kind of get there. With an ultramarathon, you can’t skimp on your training. It will lay you flat.”
That quotation came from a recent article in the Globe and Mail newspaper, entitled "Ultramarathons test physical and mental endurance". In it, Karnazes (one of the world's greatest distance runners), explains the attraction to, and perils of, ultramarathoning. I am that good, strong athlete who has faked my way through both marathons without any training. Unfortunately, I am approaching the ultra with the same regimen - i.e. none. I have run exactly twice since the end of June, both times well under 10km. I had a good excuse, though ... I went into the Death Race with stress fractures in both feet and came out with bunions and pinched tarsal nerves. So a bit of rest was in order ;) And THAT is why I am classifying this as a "dumb idea".

Another awesome take on ultramarathoning comes from an unexpected source - The Oatmeal. It is one of the funniest blogs anywhere, and has led to a spectacularly hilarious book (to which Jack recently guffawed all the way home from Vermont). In this great post, he recounted his recent 50 Mile Ultra experience.

Anyway, that is all I have to say about this today. In a few hours I am driving to Haliburton for the 6pm dinner/briefing and then I will sleep in my truck. My goal is to finish in 24 hours. The cut-off is 30. (The nightmare would be a 31 hour pace - haha!) The course is a 50 mile loop ... twice.

I cannot imagine a more challenging format, mentally. If it is a 100 mile loop, once you are halfway you HAVE to finish as it is the same distance either way. On a ten mile loop (like the McNaughton course), you just have to convince yourself to do ten more miles again and again. I am anticipating the voices in my head as I complete the first 50 mile loop ... "You have finished a 50 mile ultra!", "That is twice what you have ever run!", ""That is good enough!!". And it will likely be just approaching sunset too ... so I will be heading out into the dark for the second half. With no support team.

I will let you know Sunday how this very dumb idea works out :)

PS ... The title to this post was stolen from the phenomenal book "Born To Run" by Chris McDougall. Buy It! Read It!!

Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, And The Greatest Race The World Has Never Seen

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