Monday, July 18, 2011

What a difference a year makes. . . Amping up for the North Face 50

A year ago I was suffering in the heat of the eastern United States, desperately trying to get my mojo revved up while I attempted to make good on a promise to finish the Marine Corps Marathon on behalf of the Fisher House.  I was enjoying the hell out of running, but frustrated like hell that I could not make the gains I was hoping for and thinking to myself that a marathon was something that you survived but did not enjoy.  Nowadays though, with temperatures in the mid 70's rather than the low 90's, so much more seems possible.

Friday's run with famed nouveau blogger and friend Mike made me realize just how far I had come since last summer.

For those of you keeping score at home, that's a 10:20 pace for almost 21.5 miles.  Nothing particularly impressive about that really.

The confidence builder here though, was how I felt about halfway through.  As we started the ascent around mile 15 or so, I felt decidedly better than I did on the first lap.  I doubt that I was moving faster, but the fact that I felt great and wasn’t moving decidedly SLOWER was an enormous breakthrough for me.  I was subsisting on my homemade GU concoction and some electrolyte laced water and I knew I was running pretty light as far as carbs and energy go and yet I didn’t feel like I wanted to die.  Last October I vividly recollect crossing the finish line and thinking “I know running 50 miles ISN’T impossible, but Jesus it sure FEELS that way right now”.   On Friday I remember thinking, “Shoot, if someone just stashed a few PB&J sandwiches and some water in the bushes over there I could easily go another loop, if not two”.  The loop of which I speak is 10 miles and has a couple thousand feet of whoopsy daisy.  I might have been running 10:20, but feeling like I could knock out 30 on a random Friday felt pretty damn good.

All of this would appear rather random were it not for the fact that I have another goal for 2011:  The North Face Endurance 50 miler (San Francisco) in December.  I made this decision a while back but have chosen not to blog about it thus far.  I think I had some doubts as to whether or not I could achieve it and wanted to see where the San Francisco marathon left me.  I honestly had no idea what a course like that might do to me.  After watching this video last Thursday, I was downright scared.  The course elevation profile is downright scary.

Friday, though not an exact representation of the course in Marin, gave me a huge boost of confidence.  I no longer think of the 50 as some kind of lofty goal, but rather as a completely achievable (albeit difficult and daunting) goal.

From this point forward, I’m going to try and focus a little bit more on the transition from Marathoner to Ultra-marathoner (hopefully) and the trials and tribulations therein.  I’ve already learned quite a bit from my time on the trails in the last two weeks and I’m sure the learning will continue.  What I’m truly excited about though, is the fact that this no longer seems superhuman to me.  It just seems hard.  In my mind, once something is reduced to appearing at least possible, I can begin to chip away at it from there.  If there is one thing that the running experience has taught me it’s this:  You just have to trust that your training, in concert with your heart, will get you where you can at least SEE the light at the end of the tunnel, if not out of the tunnel altogether.

Right now I’m stoked to make visual contact with that light and now I’ll spend the next four months trying to get my ass through it.  Any and all comments on this are certainly welcome!

By Marcus with 1 comment


Nice post Marcus and thanks for the shout out! Looking forward to training with you and sharing the journey as we head toward the 50!


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