Friday, December 27, 2013

Having fun!

Picture it. The reddish soil of Palo Duro Canyon. 2008. It was then and there, about 5 years ago, that I ran my first ultramarathon and my first trail run. I had never run a trail before. The description said "99% dirt trails on the floor of the canyon" with a photo of a wide open trail. How hard could it be? What were all of the things people were wearing on their shoes? Oh, we need a flashlight? Anyone have an extra? People are carrying water - in backpacks with straws? Is there not any water along the way? Yes, these were just some of the questions that I had throughout the day - including - what did I get myself into? Followed later by - what did I do to my knee?

It's funny to think about how it all started. How naive I was. How a 50K seemed so far to run. How little I knew about running, and how little I knew about my limits and what I could accomplish with focus and determination. How excited I was to discover a whole new world I never knew existed. How hooked I had become with just run race - one trail experience. I hobbled around for a month with IT band issues aggravated by running on the uneven surface after Palo Duro. But this didn't deter me from wanting to get back out and run another trail. The one marathon I had previously run ended up being the only marathon distance race to this day I've completed. I was hooked on ultradistance.

My running has progressed considerably in the last five years. From showing up unprepared to having a closet full of a supplies and a myriad of bags and cases to tote to races. From one pair of shoes to a closet full. From one 50K medal to multiple 100 mile buckles. From saying "I think I can" to "I know I can." My running is less about "how far I just ran" and more about "how much fun I just had." That pretty much sums up my running in 2013. Fun.

This year I explored some unbelievable places with awesome people. Some highlights were running the Grand Canyon R2R2R with friends from Utah and seeing the canyon in ways few people every get to experience. Pacing my buddy Howard Mayson to his first 100 mile finish above the red sandstone cliffs at Bryce Canyon. Walking down Main St in Leadville, CO and completing the "race across the sky" for my 5th 100 mile finish. Running the Zion Traverse.

Each of these runs produced memories I'll have forever. I took away experiences, learned things from friends, and learned things about myself. I tweaked nutrition and shed pounds and found that a leaner, meaner me produced faster times with similar effort. I continued to be amazed at the selfless attitude of other runners that will give up their time and energy to help me achieve a goal. I'm much better at focusing on my running attitude, knowing that my apptitude will follow with discipline. Most of all, I had a blast.

Just as 2013 was an improvement over 2012, good things are in store for 2014. Acceptance into the Western States 100 opens up the door for a potential UltraRunning Grand Slam which includes four hundreds: Western States, Vermont, Leadville, and Wasatch. Of course there has to be some good prep runs leading up to those such as Bandera 100K and Moab 100. Although some of these are tough runs, and there will be some unhappy times during some of the races for sure, and although I want to finish all of them with great times, first and foremost I want to have a good time. Afterall, 100 miles is a long ways to run when you aren't having fun, right? I also look forward to supporting other runners at the aid stations, at the finish, or helping them get to the finish just as so many people have helped me along the way.

Gotta run have fun!

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