Monday, October 6, 2008

Roots and Rocks - An Amazing Feat for a MA runner! (Oh and I have news, too!

Right off of the top, I want to extend huge congrats to Carol O'Hear of Brookline, MA for her 1st place finish at the Arkansas Traveller 100 mile run this weekend. More impressive than being the first woman, though, is the fact that with this finish she completed the Grand Slam of Ultra Running. I have never met Carol, I believe she runs for Team Vasque, but any local runner who completes the slam deserves a couple props. Heaven knows it probably won't make it into the Globe or Herald!

This year was a little different, as the Arkansas Traveller 100 is not normally one of the slam events, but with the cancellation of Western States this year due to forest fires, Arkansas took over as the fourth race in the series.

Here are the races and Carol's finish times:

Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run - July 19-20, 2008 - 24:15:03
Leadville (Colorado) 100 Mile Trail Run - August 16-17, 2008 - 28:31:31
Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run (Utah) - September 6-7, 2008 - 35:37:43
Arkansas Traveller 100 - October 4-5, 2008 - 22:28:22

(Note - Western States Endurance Run is typically the last weekend of June)

Those not familiar with this feat, it is indeed about running four very tough 100 mile endurance runs, but it is also about doing so in a short period of time. Some people train for ONE endurance run of 100 miles over the course of a year and a half, not to mention the fact that some people need months to recover from these types of events. Terrain, altitude, training time, travel time, recovery practices, etc. all factor into the equation when one sets out on such a journey. So one can appreciate that the challenge extends so much farther than the Start and Finish lines of each run.

Congrats Carol, this trail runner simply stands in awe!

In true melodramatic form, I got my Bib number for Cape Cod!

Not that it didn't already feel official with the registration and acceptance, but today I got an email from the Race Director of the Cape Cod Marathon with my Bib Number. Very cool!

With three weeks until the race, I am sort of chomping at the bit, but also hoping that I can heal and get properly rested for the big day. Which I have to say, isn't all that 'big'. I mean, it is because I have sacrificed and trained for over a quarter of a year to get into the shape to be able to even enter a race of this distance. Not to mention the fact that whether or not I achieve both goal races this Fall, I have already accomplished the over-reaching goal I had for 2008.

As the saying goes: "Never forget where you came from", and though it typically applies to ascendancy into wealth or success, it certainly applies to the last year of my life as a runner. I have mentioned this a couple of times in this blog, but last Summer and Fall I was entering 5ks hoping just to finish, and running 23:00 for 5k was impossible. My final race of 2007 was a 5 miler where I made it to 4 miles, feeling spent, pushing to break 40, and held on to run 39:10. Needless to say, I was WRECKED after this race!

In those days the thought of running a marathon was a figment of my imagination. The following winter I found more trouble with bad weather, overuse injuries, and a plateau in my attempt to shed some pounds. After injuring myself once again in February, I took some more time off, feeling somewhat healed, I stood on March 1st at 212 pounds, realizing it was simply time to start from scratch. I worked on getting comfortable just running 3 miles, adding in a "long run" of 6 miles when I felt I could run/walk the distance. The only way I can characterise these early runs is by saying that they were mentally tough because most of the effort was used to make sure I didn't stop and walk. I also added in some of my first trail training runs, and really fell in love with the unique challenges inherent in running trails.

So sitting here having lost 25 pounds, and possessing the ability to join a couple of my running friends to do a training run of 21 miles and having the ability to just go out and run for NUMEROUS hours without too much trouble is TRULY a blessing. It isn't the Ultra-Runner's Grand Slam, but there is something so simplistically sweet about knowing that I have effectively changed my life for the better. If I prove myself worthy of the task, that finisher's medal will be nice, but standing on the Starting Line knowing I have a right to be there is definitely enough to bring a happy tear to my eye.


Dan said...

Try not to bleed on your bib this time :-) This is one you may want to keep and hang on the wall.

RunninRob said...

Well, now that we have unearthed the secret of the duct tape I may be able to make good on that! :-)

Greg said...

Hi Rob,

I live 1/4 mile from the start of the Cape Cod Marathon and have run the course twice in the last month. I've lived in town for almost 30 years and can tell you about the course if you are interested. Sometimes ignorance is bliss; especially in the Marathon distance.


RunninRob said...

Hi Greg,
Yeah, I have a general idea of what I am getting myself into, as I grew up just off-Cape in Plymouth. With that said, any tips or cautions would definitely be appreciated. From chatting with other friends who have run Cape Cod in previous years, I understand it is a "Tread lightly early, Survive Late" type of course.

Ignorance would be bliss, but I am far too analytical to allow myself that creature comfort. Also, I have found over some of my longer training runs that sometimes the last 5 miles are just about putting one foot in front of the other, no matter what the terrian happens to look like. :-)