Monday, July 6, 2015

The Vermont 100 is less than two weeks away!

So I am 11 days out from the Vermont 100 mile Endurance Run, my first 100 mile race, which will be my longest race by a factor of 2.  I have been training diligently since I signed up for the race in January, running 6 days a week and working out at the gym two days a week as well.  I have run a couple of races during this training block including the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile race in Washington DC and most recently the Goat Butt 50K race in Mendham, NJ two weekends ago.  At  both races I felt strong and could feel a difference in my level of fitness in comparison to races at the distance in the past.  All signs pointing to the fact that the training has been working and that physically at least I am about as ready as I can be.

run, running, ultramarathon
Coming in strong at the North Face DC 50 miler 

Just a point of clarification, I must say that my ability to train for this race has been build on the back of three years of training and racing marathons, half marathons and ultramarathons.  Each year I have noticed fitness gains, how running a certain distance in training or in a race has gotten easier from one year to the next.  My understanding is that this is how it works and this is why it's important to work your way up in distance slowly so that your body has a chance to adapt to the level of training and racing you are asking it to do.

run, running, ultramarathon, trail, trail running, 50K

So like I said, I have trained my body and to a certain degree my mind.  Part of running 6 days a week, when it's cold, raining, hot, when I don't feel like running, when I don't have time, getting up really early to run so I don't miss my daughter's soccer game, running a the beach, in the mountains, on the roads behind my parent's house, is that I am also training my mind to run just as a matter of fact.  No matter what my mind is doing, my legs are moving, some days faster than others and some days with more enthusiasm than others but I do the work whether I feel like it or not.  (I gotta say this discipline has spilled over into other areas of my life ie painting and working, pretty much everywhere for that matter.)  This I am hoping is going to translate to me being able both physically and mentally to keep moving all day on July 18th until I have travelled a total of 100 miles.  I am sure there are times when I am going to feel good and it is going to feel easy, but there are also going to be times when everything hurts and I can't figure out why I ever chose to do this in the first place.  At these times I am going to have to dig deep and remember why I signed up for this race, why I have been obsessed with the idea of running a 100 mile race pretty much since I heard that it was a thing that people are doing.  

Scene from the Vermont 100 course, Vermont, ultramarathon, run, running, mountains
Scene from the Vermont 100 course

Why is that?  To see if I am one of those people that can do it.  I am a really stubborn person and when I decide I am going to do something I usually follow through and make it happen, but this, this is a big thing and there are a lot of things that could go wrong and stop me, but from what I hear the biggest one is your mind.  This is what fascinates me about this challenge.  Once you train for the race and your body is about as ready as it can be the rest hinges on your mental game.  At some point in the race my body is going to be done and it is going to be telling my mind it is time to stop and I am going to have to ignore these signals and keep pressing forward.

You can do so much more than you think and part of how you do this is by ignoring that internal governor that is trying to keep you safe, comfortable and secure.  Let's be clear I am not going to run until I collapse or pass out, but there is a zone past what's comfortable and before your body shuts down that I will probably end up in at some point.  I would like to think that I am going to jog through the whole thing and never have to go there, but deep down inside I know it's going to happen.  Actually it happens in just about every ultramarathon I have ever done, to me it's what defines the experience of running an ultramarathon.

Vermont 100 elevation chart

So for the next two weeks I will be running the remainder of my training runs, painting, hanging out with my kids and obsessively preparing for the trip up the Vermont, making lists of gear, food, clothing, etc and fantasizing about what it's going to be like, emailing my friends who are doing this crazy race with me and coordinating with my crew and pacers.

Special thanks to Kat Bermudez my crew chief or "stage mother" which she has named herself, Knox Robinson fellow crew member and potential pacer, Maria Campos pacer, and a special shout out to Chipp Winston, Ayako Yamazaki, Helen Clark and Stephen Bandfield my fellow Trail Whippass' who are also running this crazy race with me in a couple weeks.

trail running, running, run, Trail Whippass, ultramarathon, NJ, Goat Butt 50K
Fellow Trail Whippass' after the Goat Butt 50K

The Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run ("Vermont 100") is a 100 mile (162 km) long ultramarathon held annually in July at Silver Hill Meadow in West Windsor, Vermont. It is one of the four 100 mile races that comprise the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning. It is also one of the few ultra races in the USA where entrants run alongside horses over a similar course, in a separate but simultaneous race. (Horses avoid some of the more treacherous single-track and technical trails.) The race has been held every year since 1989.

Vermont 100 race course, run, running, ultramarathon, 100, hundo
Another beautiful scene from the Vermont 100 course

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