Four days before the 4MPH Challenge I found myself hiding in a conference room with my head against the wall. Why did I sign up for a race where the point for me was to go until the wheels fell off? I wasn’t scared or nervous. My week wasn’t going well and the mounting to-do list to prepare for the weekend was daunting. I felt overwhelmed.
The 4MPH Challenge is a variation on a timed event. Instead of seeing how far you can go in a set amount of time like 12 or 24 hours, you must complete 6 miles in 90 minutes. If you complete 6 miles in less time, you have to wait until the full 90 minutes has elapsed before you can start the next lap. If you complete it in more than 90 minutes you time out and it’s over. Essentially you get a starting gun every 90 minutes with a 90 minute cut off.* There is no defined end until your body or your brain chooses it for you. Even the race director says he’ll stay out on the course until there is no one left standing. The concept intrigued me.
While it was cool to run a fast 100-miler, I was very clear that my primary goal at Desert Solstice was to learn how to run a 100-miler. Many people might question how a track race would prepare one for a mountain trail 100-miler, but to me it was like the necessity of taking Algebra 1 before Advanced Calculus. You need to have the basics down cold in order to have a foundation on which to build. By stripping out elements like heat, altitude, hills, and long stretches without aid, I was able to focus on nutrition, hydration, electrolytes, and pacing – the true basics of ultrarunning. (Smith, 2013)
I wish I could say I was as thoughtful as Pam Smith when I signed up for Pacific Coast Trail Runs’ Summer Solstice 24 Hour and that doing it was part of some bigger plan but the truth is I signed up about two weeks beforehand when I saw what the buckle looked like if you went over 100 miles. When I mentioned to my friend Alina my attraction to this shiny object her first response was, “What are you, a cat?” Depending on your perspective that’s either a huge compliment or a wholly accurate assessment of my ability to make a rational decision.
Mix a little bit of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), a little bit of stupid, a little bit of hubris and a whole lot of wishful thinking. What do you get? Me, signing up for a 12 hour timed race three days before the whole thing goes down.
I had done the Brazen Dirty Dozen last year and had put it on the calendar again. But 2013 has been split in half by the Bryce 100k. I was so sure about everything that came before Bryce and completely uncertain about anything that came after it. And the Brazen race came after.
Redemption in 5k Increments
ham•ster | ˈhamstər | noun – A solitary burrowing rodent with a short tail and large cheek pouches for carrying food, native to Europe and northern Asia.
As far as I can tell I’m not a solitary burrowing rodent although I do have a reputation among those in the know for tucking into astonishing amounts of food so large cheek pouches may exist but I’m not telling.