A couple months back, I wanted to make sure that I at least ran a couple great mountain races while I spent what could be my only summer in Colorado. I had been given the opportunity of a lifetime to pursue a career helping people find joy in sports and recreation, while training on the world's most beautiful terrain at the same time. Races provide me with a venue to meet others who are passionate about getting outside and catching a glimpse of how we used to live, when all that mattered was the hunt. When running races, I feel a flow state that is unmatched during all but the best training runs. With these things in mind, I searched for a few races of varying distances that would help me take advantage of the chance to live a dream.
The setback, as I found out, is that I'm not alone. Many of the most popular races in the Colorado area had sold out shortly after registration opened. I settled on a focused phase of training for the Leadville 50mile(as can be read in my race report, I wasn't quite as prepared as I would like to have been). This works well with regard to timing because the 50 mile mountain race would serve as a pillar of my training for the Woodstock 100 miler back home. I'd be able to continue my relaxed lifestyle of volunteering with those with disabilities, doing odd jobs to get by, and running wherever and whenever motivation and my schedule deemed it possible. I knew I'd get through a 100miler on what I was doing, as long as I worked hard and kept my mileage and training consistent.
Bored at work, I decide to check my personal messages. A message shows up in my inbox from a sender named PPM. I open it to read that it was the race director from the Pikes Peak Marathon. Of the ten available spots offered to "competitive" runners, I was offered one. I read it at least three times to make sure I was reading it right. I then checked the name of the intended recipient so I could forward it to them and correct their mistake. I checked every possible explaination before I finally had to accept what had just happened: I was invited to compete as an elite runner in the most challenging marathon in the U.S.
When I was trying to assemble a race schedule, I checked out the Pikes Peak race as a possible event to run. When attempting to register, I soon realized that I was several months late- the race filled up in just over an hour. The only way to get into this year's race was to apply for competitive entry. I figured, "what the hell? I've got some decent times. I look alright on paper." I pooled some resources and begged for some favors to aid in my attempt to convince the RD that I was a worthy opponent for an elite field. Though I knew stranger things had happened, I still felt as though I was wasting my time. I could throw a rock in Colorado and hit someone who could beat me up that peak.
A few weeks had passed and I heard nothing. The 29th was the last day for notification, and it came and went without a 13.3 mile red carpet being rolled out before me. I shrugged it off and went about my summer. Life was still great.
...What I had failed to notice was that I was looking at the wrong 29th. July 29th was the last day for elite entries. I was messaged on the 28th. Was I a first choice? Doubtful, but to be considered for such an honor didn't seem possible even 6 months ag(shit, 6 days ago).
Back to this email. I emphatically replied, accepting the invitation before anyone changed their mind. I really just agreed to run up a damned 14,000 foot mountain. As if that weren't grandiose enough, I also agreed that I had a shot at doing faster than 99% of the feild. How can a self-loather like myself make such a commitment?
Can I do it? Who knows? All I know is that there's at least one person out there who thinks so. As I mentioned before, there are several stronger runners who could fill this spot. The thing is that they didn't. I did. This is my spot now, and I'll be damned sure that I earn it. I can't promise or even predict any results, but I can lay my head down tonight knowing that I'm preparing to give it hell this time. I may never get an opportunity to do anything like this again, so ready or not, here it comes. I'll run as best I can on that given day. It's all anyone can ask, even me.
With any luck the short notice will allow me to get in some focused workouts and decent mileage before I walk into the press conference on the 18th of August.
My life has been great to me, and I'm thankful beyond words.
If this works out, the next thing added to my "action items" list is to rob Fort Knox with a slingshot.
|...My first day of PPM training included a nice tumble on Green Mountain. |
Don't say I wouldn't bleed for it.
(and then whine and expect lots of attention)