I don’t know exactly what sleeping dragon is lurking deep within my psyche that demands I bite off more than I can reasonably chew, but it is there and it has been there for quite some time. It really comes as no surprise that I am once again contemplating an athletic endeavor that at the very least seems improbable and at the worst, might just be impossible.
It started last year as a joke. We were planning a backpacking trip for my birthday. I flippantly blurted out, “how cool would it be if we hiked 52 miles on my 52nd birthday?” My partner in crime just shook his head, but I really think that I started a little bit of “I wonder if I could” for him as well. Last year, a late start combined with a torrential downpour and hypothermia inducing conditions relegated this silly little idea to the back of my mind along with all of the other unreasonable fantasies that I’ve been harboring. This one was just waiting for the right set of circumstances to set things in motion.
In early April, I was goofing off with my computer, and I decided to try and map out a little 53 mile route. Google Earth can be an awesome thing! In keeping with my thematic ideal, not only does my proposed route include 53 miles, but approx 5300 feet of elevation gain as well! Once I had the proposed route mapped, Google Earth allowed me to do a “fly over” of the route. This just got me excited (a little nauseated too). We drove the route, and began planning logistics with regard to water and food caches, and here is the big thing… I posted my intention on facebook. Publicly announcing my lunacy to the “world” as I know it. Declaring my intention gave this event some substance. I began to receive encouragement and positive feedback from my peers. The proverbial “snowball” began its downhill roll, gaining size and momentum along the way. Once I began putting energy into this event, the Universe began to conspire to make it happen. I was planning this atrocity, and things began to fall into place. It became a “when” rather than an “if”. There is now one week left before this event. In retrospect, I am undoubtedly “under-trained” for this monstrosity. Our longest training hike/run has been 30 miles. But, at this point, it will be what it will be. Since we have established a 24 hour time cap for this event, we are planning to “power walk” up the hills, and jog or walk the flats and downhill sections. In addition to the long weekend training sessions, I have been logging 4 days per week at the gym and including shorter run and bike sessions during the weekdays. I know that there are a lot of people out there competing in the “ultra marathon” gruel fests, and doing so with ease, but I fully expect that this will lay me flat… splay me open… and expose the inner demons that I don’t necessarily want to face. Me against the clock. Will my body crack first or will it be my mind?
Just four years ago, on my 49th birthday, I weighed over 200 pounds and I had given up on life. Happiness, hopes, dreams, and goals, those things were for other people. I had convinced myself that I would have no more grand experiences. I was done with that. Well folks, as they say, “it ain’t over til the fat lady sings”, and this lady ain’t fat no more!!!!
In eleven days, I will celebrate 53 years of awesomeness on this little blue rock we call home. In just 7 days, I will be attempting to beat the clock and propel myself 53 miles with 5300 feet of elevation gain in 24 hours. Wish me luck!