"100 miles is not that far."
So 2015 is shaping up to be a big year for me. I turn 40 this year and I am running my first 100 mile foot race. That's right, this summer I am planning on running a 100 mile race, the Vermont 100 to be precise. A 100 mile race in West Windsor, Vermont with a total of 14,000 feet of vertical gain run mainly on trail and dirt roads.
A couple years ago when I started training for my first ultramarathon, the Mountain Madness 50K, the idea of running 100 miles was a terrifying thought, it just sounded impossible, but at the same time it was an idea that alighted my imagination and somewhere deep down inside I knew I was going to have to do it at some point. It's funny how my thoughts on the subject have changed over this last two years as I have gained experience running longer and longer races and listened and read the stories of my ultramarathon runners about they're experiences running 100 mile races all over the world. I remember specifically early on hearing Timothy Olson talk about going to the "pain cave" during a 100 miler, this is when you are so fatigued and in so much pain that your perception of the world literally narrows down to a small tunnel in front of you. It is all you can perceive and about all you can handle. Now a normal person would hear about the pain cave and run the other way, but for some reason a little voice inside of me said "I want to go to the pain cave!" "I wonder what that experience is like," "I wonder what it feels like to come out of that place."
So maybe at this point you are realizing I am a little nuts. I prefer to call it curious, precotious maybe.
Well this is my year, a couple weeks ago I signed up for the Vermont 100, which sold out in 45 minutes, and at this point I am deep into the training routine. I have signed up for a couple of "shorter" races along my journey to Vermont in July, including the Naked Bavarian 40 mile race on March 8th, the day after my 40th birthday and the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler in Washington D.C. in April, and most recently the Brooklyn Half Marathon in May.
I have started my training using Hal Koerner's 50 mile training plan from his Field Guide to Ultrarunning which will prepare me for the 50 miler in April and then I plan to maybe take a couple days off and jump into his 100 mile training plan for the rest of the summer. In addition to this I worked with my mother in law, and personal trainer, Laurie Bulter to design a strength training plan to work on strengthening my core and straighten out some inbalances in my leg strength.
What this looks like is me running 6 days a week, one day of which I run twice, in addition to hitting the gym twice a week. I worried the gym would take me over the edge, but I am actually really enjoying it, it's a nice brake for doing nothing but running all the time.
At this point I am running on trails maybe once a week, but as we get closer to July I plan on getting into the mountains more so that I can get used to doing alot of climbing.
It can be challenging to get up early in the morning and go out into the cold and rain to grind out my miles for the day, but I am trying to look at the whole thing as a grand adventure. So getting up at 6am this morning to run 8 miles in the dark before my 9am meeting at work is just a new experience that I can be curious about instead of something to dread and talk myself out of. I finally got to have the experience of being out on a run and watching the world slowly illuminate.